UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering have developed fuel cells with energy-storage capabilities.
Current fuel cell technologies are limited by cost and lifetime, as well as poor response to operating condition fluctuations. Adding energy storage devices to fuel cells can improve their dynamic response, reduce performance degradation, and decrease fabrication cost, but designing energy management systems is complex, energy storage devices occupy the limited room available while increasing costs, and many energy storage materials cannot tolerate the acidic conditions in many fuel cells. Therefore, integrating energy storage into existing fuel cell components has the potential to deliver the desired operational improvements and reduce the power system size and cost.
UCLA researchers have developed fuel cell electrodes with energy-storage capabilities that can provide significantly improved power responsiveness. The design provides fuel cells with supercapacitor-like response to transient loads, while reducing size and cost. Fuel cells with this innovation also demonstrate high durability under harsh operating conditions, resulting in prolonged lifetimes, and possess outstanding electron and proton conductivity, extraordinary energy-storage capability, and cycling stability. These electrodes can be used in different types of fuel cells, including proton exchange membrane, solid acid, and solid oxide. The technology is especially useful in automotive applications, where frequent acceleration places fluctuating demand on fuel cells, and is an attractive low-cost, highly reliable solution for distributed power generation and other applications.
Fuel cell, energy storage, dynamic response, fuel cell electrode, supercapacitors, energy storage materials, proton exchange membrane fuel cells