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Posted: May 23, 2006
New fuel cell technology expands possibilities
(Nanowerk News) Shifting European energy demands towards alternative energy sources is not a simple task. The technological needs involved in this undertaking are partly tackled by the EU-funded APOLLON project.
APOLLON project partners set out to develop novel polymeric fuel cells which would operate using hydrogen and/or methanol fuels. The main aims were the production of effective electrode materials and cheap polymeric electrolyte membranes (PEM). One of the overall objectives was that new materials would allow the fuel cells to operate at temperatures above 150ºC.
PEM fuel cells can deliver high power density and operate under mobile and stationary conditions. The new technology developed within the framework of the APOLLON project would allow PEM fuel cells to be more flexible in terms of applications and temperature ranges. Catalysts form an important part of all PEM fuel cells but are also a considerable limitation in terms of their sensitivity to environmental conditions, such as temperature and carbon monoxide levels.
Developing new catalyst materials was one of the first steps towards the development of innovative PEM fuel cells. Researchers applied a nanoparticle colloidal method for catalyst preparation. This new route resulted in catalyst materials with a much improved thermal stability.
The colloidal nanoparticles can be readily dispersible in various solvents and the resulting colloidal catalyst can take on a desired set of characteristics depending on researchers' specifications. The "precursor-concept" for the synthesis of colloidal catalyst developed within APOLLON allows a flexibility in designing catalyst properties, which is beneficial in terms of production.
Researchers are seeking to gain further research or development support in order to continue this line of research and possibly test its potential in a variety of applications.
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