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Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach Directorate

High-Quality, Well-Controlled Catalysts for Device-Level Integration

The Challenge

Over the last 20 years, scientists have designed fuel cell catalysts that perform well, but transferring those technologies into actual devices has proved challenging.

The main challenge has been the inability to scale up the fuel cell catalyst materials to a volume sufficient for testing at device level. Without that, commercialization of these technologies is impossible.

Argonne’s Solution

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have designed a system for scaling up fuel cell nanocatalysts.

Starting in a discovery lab and working at bench scale (milligrams), the Argonne team then leverages a process R&D lab to create optimize batches of materials (gram scale for MEA study). From there, the scientists employ a continuous flow reactor to achieve scalable synthesis.

The end result is engineered catalyst material in a quantity that can be tested in devices.

Argonne is uniquely positioned to deliver this solution. The leading materials discovery lab in the DOE complex, Argonne is a member of the DOE-funded Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT) Consortium.

Argonne is home to the Materials Engineering Research Center (MERF), where scientists apply advanced synthesis and processing protocols, advanced in situ/operando characterization, and modeling/simulation for the scale-up of newly invented experimental materials and chemicals. MERF is a unique facility within the DOE complex.

Argonne is also home to the Advanced Photon Source, a DOE national user facility that enables in-situ characterization of particle size, size distribution, and composition.

In addition, Argonne is home to the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE national user facility that enables detailed characterization of nanomaterial structural properties, which can be correlated with catalyst
performance and durability.

The Benefits

Argonne’s system delivers engineered catalyst materials in a quantity that can be tested in devices. These materials offer:

  • High quality
  • High performance
  • High durability
  • Reproducibility