Fuel Cells
Source: Argonne National Laboratory
Date: 12/1/93    Record No.: 10033
Contact: Mike Myles, 708-252-4329; Michael Krumpelt, 708-252-8520

Fuel Cells
ANL does in-house research and is lead lab for DOE Fuel Cell Program and manages the fuel cell effort. Solid Oxide (SO) and Molten Carbonate (MC) for stationary power applic. As phosphoric acid (PA) is considered to be a commercial reality, the only work at ANL is some management activity.

Also Polymer Electrolyte and DOE Bus Program for Transportation. Ballard Technology and Dow aggressive on PEM--big R&D effort with Mercedes Benz and others. Ballard is sub to GM-Allison for DOE passenger car. (IFC pursuing with GE lic., as is Seimens) On-board methanol-->H2

Argonne does Systems Analysis for DOE and EPRI, and work on CO tolerant catalysts and partial oxidation reforming.

MC--gets most of the R&D funding. Some in-house, some to MC Power for electrode development--goal is longer life cathode--trying double doped materials and conductive ceramics. DOE program goals are to double the power density to over 3000 amps/m2 to reduce the plant footprint, to simplify the design and to reduce corrosion. 10 years ago, MC was thought to be the next generation of fuel cell. Not working out easily. Demos in 2-300kw to 2 MW. R&D to increase power density and new stack configuration for cheaper mfg.

SO--Westinghouse is the prime developer. 25-40KW system demos. Alternative for Distributed Generation. More entries internationally. In U.S., B&W with a major chem co. Also, Allied Signal is prime to ANL for work on "Monolithic SO." Need to control shrinkage, flatness, match coeffic. of thermal expansion--going to thin layers.

ANL has some funding from SCE--opportunities in SO. EPRI forming consortium for new concept "Planar SO" (Rocky Goldstein and John O'Sullivan)

Suggest that in the long run MC may drop back and end up like phosphoric acid (basically leapfrogged)--remains to be seen! World competition is picking up, and U.S. losing lead. The Westinghouse SO technology is expensive. Utilities unwilling to pay higher initial cost of early systems, and private sector can't do it by themselves (DOE study by Prof. Penner--why commercialization hasn't happened). Need utilities to work with mg and govt. to commercialize existing systems and support new concepts--3-way teams.

PEM, primarily being developed for transportation use, could reach low-cost mass production first--despite disadvantages for stationary use. Dow is committed to be supplier of membranes--ANL to do concept design for stationary applications. OPPORTUNITY for a 3-way partnership--other utilities avoiding, due to belief that PEM not appropriate for stationary.

NREL/DOE solicitation on infrastructure for H2--utilities to have role in demos.