273 Fuel Cell Materials

Thursday, November 5, 2009: 10:00 AM
Brahma (Camino Real Hotel)
Paul Gannon, Ph.D. , Chemical and Biological Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
Fuel cell systems have received significant attention due to their high energy conversion efficiency and low environmentally-sensitive emissions.  Fuel cells electrochemically oxidize fuels into electrical energy, heat and oxidized products.  Individual fuel cells are comprised of an anode and a cathode separated by an ion-conducting electrolyte.  To increase power, fuel cells are often assembled into series-connected stacks of cells, which are separated by electronically conductive interconnects, or bi-polar plates.  Fuel cell stacks are the heart of fuel cell systems, which are comprised of fuel processing, gas delivery, power electronics, thermal management and process control subsystems.  Many different fuel cell types have been developed, demonstrated and commercialized for a variety of electric power applications.  Depending upon fuel cell type, systems operate from 20°C to >1000°C on various fuels (e.g., H2, CH4, CO, and others) and produce power in excess of 1MW.  Unfortunately, fuel cell system performance and durability are often materials-limited and cost prohibitive.  However, significant progress has been made, and with ever-increasing energy demands, fuel cell systems are likely to play an increasing role in our energy future.  This talk will present an overview of fuel cell technology, with focus on solid oxide fuel cell systems, and specific material challenges and opportunities.