Hydrogen fuel cell efficiency improves with ionic materials

Hydrogen fuel cell efficiency improves with ionic materials

November 7, 2023 1 By Tami Hood

A research team from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology made the achievement.

A team of researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has recently made a discovery regarding a meaningful improvement to hydrogen fuel cell efficiency.

The study results were published in the Angewantdte Chemie International Edition online.

The paper in the journal has been drawing substantial attention and even managed to be selected for the journal’s back cover.

The research team was led by UNIST Department of Chemistry Professor Myoung Soo Lah. They successfully developed solid electrolyte materials through the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The method was found to make improvements to H2 ion conductivity inside the solid electrolytes used in a hydrogen fuel cell.

The researchers also introduced low acidity guest molecules. This represented a novel achievement among intermediaries used for this reason. By using a new method that boosts the number of guest molecules in the pores of MOFs, they enhanced the H2 ion conductivity.

The research helps overcome the limitations of the Nafion hydrogen fuel cell electrolyte material.

Nafion is the electrolyte material most commonly used in Proton-Exchange Membrane fuel cells because of its mechanical, thermal and chemical stability as well as its H2 ion conductivity. That said, the operating temperature range is limited, and the performance enhancement mechanisms aren’t entirely clear.

Hydrogen fuel cell - Research equipment

The team of researchers instead focused on MOFs as options as alternatives to Nafion. MOF materials are made up of clusters of metal that are interlinked via organic ligands. The outcome is a structure that is porous and that has considerable thermal and chemical stability properties. These characteristics have placed them in the spotlight recently for use in hydrogen fuel cell applications.

MOF pore sizes

hydrogen news ebookThe varying sizes of MOF pores mean that they can be used for the development of materials that have high H2 ion coductivity through the introduction of guest molecules through those pathways.

The researchers used zwitterionic sulfamic acid, which is a low-acidity amphoteric ionic substance with both positive and negative charges. The materials proved highly durable and maintained H2 ion conductivity for a long time.

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