Long-standing fuel cell success

Today, the Los Alamos fuel cell program concentrates on polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, with successions of innovation in:

  • Design and performance of polymer membranes
  • Gas diffusion layer materials
  • Electrodes
  • High-performance catalysts
  • Flow batteries

Testing facilities at Los Alamos support investigation and validation of the reliability of materials and components as well as overall fuel cell performance and durability.

An interdisciplinary approach

Los Alamos scientists integrate expertise in theory, modeling, and simulation of electrochemical systems into their overall development efforts. This includes:

  • Atomistic scale models to investigate gas and charge transport
  • Mesoscale pore network models to understand multi-phase transport
  • Capabilities in finite-element methods for multi-scale, fully coupled simulations of system performance

Our researchers apply machine learning approaches to refine electrode catalyst synthesis, as well as fuel cell durability and performance. These capabilities are predominantly utilized for PEM fuel cells, but can be readily extended to solid oxide (SOFC), molten carbonate (MCFC), phosphoric acid (PAFC), alkaline (AFC) fuel cells, and other hydrogen related systems. Specifically, Los Alamos has simulation capabilities that can address:

  • Mitigating heat in SOFCs
  • Understanding the impact of material impurities
  • Evaluating defects in fuel cell performance

A reputation for innovation

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The Los Alamos fuel cell program has a long-standing history of successful partnering and licensing technology, as well as publishing in open literature to advance the state of fuel cell technology. Today, our scientists continue to work in direct partnership with both large and small companies, universities, and other national labs to accelerate the development and deployment of fuel cell technologies.

Over its 45-year history, the Los Alamos fuel cell program has evolved to match the needs of DOE and the developing fuel cell community. The current program concentrates on pre-competitive component integration and new materials development to address cost, durability, and efficiency. Los Alamos is a core laboratory in the DOE Fuel Cell program, co-leading the Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT) and ElectroCat consortia. We are also a partner in the Hydrogen from Next-generation Electrolyzers of Water (H2NEW) consortium. Through these partnerships, Los Alamos is applying its expertise in materials development and characterization to advance the next generation of fuel cells for a cleaner energy economy.