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INL research targets fuel cell technology

An Idaho National Laboratory researcher has developed a fuel cell technology powered by solid carbon that could make coal and biomass cleaner and more efficient.

INL materials engineer Dong Ding said the fuel cell design incorporates innovation in three components including the anode, electrolyte and fuel. The advancements allow the fuel cell to utilize about three times as much carbon as earlier direct carbon fuel cell designs.

Ding said the fuel cells also operate at lower temperatures and higher power densities. His research was published in the journal “Advanced Materials.”

The cells make use of readily available fuels so they are potentially more efficient than conventional hydrogen fuel cells. They can use a large number of carbon-based resources for fuel, including coal, coke, tar, biomass and organic waste.

Ding and his colleagues are partnering with Salt Lake City-based Storagenergy, Inc., to apply for a Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)-Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Funding Opportunity. The results will be announced in February 2018.

A Canadian energy-related company has also shown interest in these DCFC technologies.

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