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Press Release | Argonne National Laboratory

Chemist Deborah Myers recognized as a pioneering woman in fuel cell research

Myers is driving discovery in fuel cell research using advanced techniques and capabilities at Argonne.

Chemist Deborah Myers of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recognized as a pioneering woman in the field of fuel cell research in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

The article, titled The 2022 applied physics by pioneering women: a roadmap,” is intended to celebrate women’s accomplishments, highlight established and early career researchers enlarging the boundaries in their respective fields, and promote increased visibility for the impact women have on applied physics research.”

The roadmap recognizes Myers’ contributions to fuel cell research and development. Specifically, she was a pioneer in using advanced techniques such as synchrotron X-ray scattering to study polymer electrolyte fuel cells.

My Argonne colleagues and I were the first to use X-ray scattering to understand the performance degradation due to the growth of nanoparticle catalysts in an operating polymer electrolyte fuel cell.” — Argonne chemist Deborah Myers

Such fuel cells are attractive as alternatives to conventional power systems for transportation, portable power and stationary applications. They can convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity with no on-board undesirable emissions and high efficiency. What’s more, hydrogen for the fuel cells can be produced from water by electrolysis, a technology Myers is also studying. Nanoparticle catalysts are used in these fuel cells and in water electrolyzers to drive the reaction of hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity and water and to drive the reverse reaction to produce hydrogen.

My Argonne colleagues and I were the first to use X-ray scattering to understand the performance degradation due to the growth of nanoparticle catalysts in an operating polymer electrolyte fuel cell,” Myers said. We used the world-class beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source to examine the growth of nanoparticles over time and how different cell conditions affected this process.” The Advanced Photon Source is a DOE Office of Science user facility located at Argonne.

The data collected through these experiments led to the development of stable fuel cell catalysts that were incorporated into such technology as hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Myers joined Argonne in 1989 as a postdoctoral appointee in the Chemical Technology division’s Aqueous Corrosion group. Following her postdoctoral appointment, she joined the division’s Fuel Cell section where she worked on a variety of projects related to materials development and characterization to improve the performance and durability of fuel cell and hydrogen production systems.

Myers is currently the leader of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Materials group within Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division.

About the Advanced Photon Source

The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.

This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology by conducting leading-edge basic and applied research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.