Hydrogen fuel cells transform chemical energy of fuel into power without utilizing low-effective, high-loss combustion processes and transformation of thermal energy into mechanical energy. As a result of highly efficient cold fuel combustion, this electrochemical device generates electric power. A hydrogen-air fuel cell with a proton-exchange membrane (PEMFC) is one of the most efficient perspective technologies of fuel cells.
A proton-conducting polymer membrane separates two electrodes, an anode and a cathode. Each electrode represents a coal plate (matrix) with catalyst applied. On the anode catalyst, molecular hydrogen dissociates and yields electrons. Hydrogen cations are passed through the membrane to the cathode, but electrons are yielded to the external circuit, since the membrane does not let the electrons to pass through.
On the cathode catalyst, the oxygen molecule associates with the electron (supplied to the electrical circuit) and the arrived proton and forms water that is the only product of reaction (in the form of steam and/or liquid).
Specific features of AT Energy systems (partially under development)
- Instead of a Pt/C-based catalyst conventionally used in PEMFC, it is planned to use a catalyst with a Pt/SnO2/C-based carrier with addition of carbon and SnO2 additives to increase conductivity. The company has developed a method for implementation and even distribution of stibium particles within the oxide carrier volume, which allowed increasing the period of catalyst's stable operation. Using this catalyst on the anode allows for high FC resistance to CO impurities. During laboratory tests, the catalyst was stable, showed no loss of properties at high CO concentrations and demonstrated self-regeneration capabilities.
- The modification technology of proton-exchange membranes made of sulfurized fluoropolymer (Nafion, MF-4SK) allows avoiding water freezing, achieving self-moisturizing and ensures proton conductivity sufficient to start FC at low humidity and at low temperatures (down to -40°С). The team has developed several methods for membrane modification, the best of which combines the membrane modification with platinum and phosphor tungstic acid nano-particles.
AT Energy is constantly developing new technical solutions for fuel cells in the following areas:
- Low-platinum catalysts
- Catalysts showing high resistance towards impurities in hydrogen
- Humidity-independent proton-exchange membranes
- New generation of hydrogen sources