Current Research Initiatives

The lab is currently funded by a variety of sponsors from industry and government sources. Major automotive manufacturers, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Lab and material suppliers form the core support of the lab.

Redox Flow Battery Systems

Flow battery technology is a key technology for intermittent energy storage and smart-grid development. The FBDDL has ongoing research involving experimental diagnostics and computational simulation and optimization of flow battery systems.


Top

Biological-Electrochemical Energy Systems (BES)

For four years, with colleagues of The Penn State University, the EESCL has been engaged in experimental study of microbial fuel cells. Recently, we have begun modeling these systems as part of a funded study from the Army Research Office.

Top

Degradation in PEFCs

The EESCL has extensive experience relating to observed multi-phase phenomenon to stability and degradation in PEFCs. Ongoing research involves a wide-range of technologies including neutron imaging, direct visualization, computational modeling, and a multitude of materials analysis techniques.

Top

Neutron Imaging of PEFCs

Since 2002, the EESCL has received fundingfrom various sources to team with the Neutron Imaging and Radiation Science and Engineering Center at the Penn State Breazeale Nuclear Reactor to provide a unique facility to visualize water formation and motion inside fuel cells from a small, single channel, to a full size 500 cm2 capability. Facilities for 3-D computed tomography to visualize and quantify liquid and frozen water directly in the diffusion media and flow channel are under construction, along with expanded temperature control to enable freeze-thaw testing.

Now at the University of Tennessee, the Neutron Imaging Facility at Oak Ridge National Lab and NIST are available for regular use.

Top

Direct Visualization of PEFCs

The EESCL recently began a multi-year program funded by NSF to directly visualize and quantify liquid water fluid dynamics in micro-channels and through the diffusion media for Direct Methanol Fuel Cell and hydrogen PEFC applications.

Top

Fuel Cell Dynamics

All diagnostics developed by the EESCL have a unique real-time capability. These are being combined to study the actual current, species, and impedance dynamics of the PEFC under realistic load cycling, a condition quite different than typically studied fuel cell statics. Results are being incorporated into models developed to describe operation under these conditions for fuel cell online control.

Top

Extreme Current Operation

New open flow field architectures pioneered by Nuvera, were modeled and tested at the EESCL. At up to 3A/cm2, extreme transport gradients occur and are being studied for the first time.

Top

Thermal and Mass Transport Parameter Characterization

The online species and temperature diagnostics that have been developed at the EESCL are being applied to determine more accurate transport parameters for mass and heat in the diffusion media. This enables more accurate modeling results and predictive capabilities

Top

Degradation Diagnosis and Prognosis

The EESCL is developing online, in situ sensors to detect and quantify long-term failure modes (such as catalyst migration and degradation or pinhole formation) at an early stage so that mitigation strategies can be applied to prolong life. These sensors utilize tools of symbolic dynamics and the dynamic response of the fuel cell to external stimulus to rapidly quantify the long-term degradation level. This technology has recently been applied to develop a precise Online Carbon Monoxide Poison Sensor to accurately quantify CO poisoning to the ppm level. This enables a much more robust fuel cell system and eliminates expensive CO sensor hardware.

Top

Continued Development of Advanced Diagnostics

The EESCL is constantly developing advanced diagnostics to measure important fuel cell phenomena. Current examples include MEMS-based thermal sensors and flow sensing to determine local diffusion media bypass. We are also always interested in teaming with other partners who seek to apply new technology to PEFCs.

Top

Computational Simulation of Single Cell and Stack Performance of Fuel Cells and Flow Battery

The FCDDL and FBDDL, have years of experience developing high fidelity modeling tools to help design materials and understand multi-phase phenomena in electrochemical power systems.

Top

Electrochemical Conversion and Disposal of Waste

Researchers at the APL with FCDDL have developed an electrochemically based method to safely convert a major class of hazardous gas-phase waste into an easy to dispose of product. This approach is significantly less expensive than convetional disposal means.

Top

Direct Alcohol and Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

The EESCL has several years experience in the development of advanced DMFC and DAFC designs for portable power applications. Research is ongoing.

Top