Development of novel method for preparation of PEM fuel cell electrodes


Reference #:  00437

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for this technology.

Potential Applications:

The present invention relates to a multi-layer polymer electrolyte membrane, an electrochemical apparatus and a process for the preparation of a multi-layer polymer electrolyte membrane.  These types of PEM fuel cell membranes are used in devices such as hydrogen or direst methanol fuel cells.  The technique can be used for the deposition of platinum as well as other noble metals (Ru, Pd, Ag, etc,) and alloys such as Pt-Ru, Pt-Ir, Pt-Ag and Pt-Au).

Advantages and Benefits:

This novel technique provided an increased the Pt/C ratio up to 75 wt% near the surface of the electrode.  This result has the potential to reduce the normal required amount of Pt or other noble metal usage by six times.  The results also indicate this novel technique is a way to achieve industry goals of reduced production cost and increased fuel cell efficiency.   



Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells offer low weight and high power density and are being considered for automotive and stationary power applications. Current approaches for preparing a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for PEM fuel cells can be broadly divided into two different categories: powder type and non-powder type. The powder type involves the process of catalyzation on a high surface area of carbon.  However, it is difficult to control the particle size of the catalyst when the Pt to carbon ratio increases more than 40 wt%.  Therefore, these processes typically are unable to produce a membrane with a Pt/C ratio higher than 40 wt%.  In order to overcome this limitation, several non-powder type processes were developed.  These processes, such as ion-exchange and sputtering, create the catalyst directly on the surface of carbon electrode or membrane.  However, these techniques are not volume production methods.  They often require expensive equipment and cannot be used for fabrication of large structures with complex shapes.

Invention Description:

The subject invention provides a polymer electrode membrane fuel cell that can be produced at a reduced cost and increased operating efficiency.  Using this novel technique, it is possible to increase the Pt/C ratio up to 75 wt% near the surface of the electrode.  The results indicate that it may be an attractive technique to replace conventional powder type MEA preparation methods and help achieve industry goals of reducing the cost and increasing the efficiency of polymer electrode membrane fuel cells.

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Development of a Novel Method for Preparation of PEMFC Electrodes Utility United States 11/191,605 8,465,858 7/28/2005 6/18/2013 9/30/2032  
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Hansung Kim
Branko Popov
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