|Pressure Balanced Fuel Cell|
OVERVIEWThere is a growing need and market opportunity for low cost fuel cell technologies that are more durable and operate with greater efficiency than currently available fuel cells. Improved efficiency can be obtained by means such as operating at a higher pressure than conventional fuel cells or operating at lower temperatures. Of special interest for future energy production technologies are proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells that can be widely used to provide power for devices and transportation. PEM fuel cells operate by separating the anode and cathode chambers with a membrane that is not permeable to gaseous hydrogen or oxygen, but is permeable to hydrogen protons while electrons are transported via electrical conductors in order to produce electrical potential. Conventional PEM designs have limitations that limit their adoption. Limitations include fragility of fuel cells and susceptibility to membrane damage due to pressure fluctuations between anode and cathode chambers and low efficiency caused by typical operating pressures.
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITYA researcher at the University of Wisconsin - Stout has developed a novel pressure balanced fuel cell with automatically equalized pressure within the fuel side chamber (anode) and oxygen side chamber (cathode). The technology is based on an efficient method of auto balancing pressure according to Pascal’s law allowing constant pressure balance without intermixing of gases. In addition, the technology allows the fuel cell to operate at increased overall pressure thereby improving efficiency and protecting the fragile membrane from damage caused by pressure imbalance. Performance of the fuel cell can be fine-tuned via pressure regulator without the need for sophisticated electronic controls. In addition, the technology provides a simple fabrication technique employing stackable elements.
- Potential applications include automotive, industrial and household energy needs
- Prevents fuel chamber from being flooded with over pressurized air while flow is stopped
- Improved efficiency through higher pressure operation without increased risk of rupture of proton exchange membrane
- Does not require sophisticated computer or electronic controls
- Simple injection molding fabrication technique based on stackable elements
- Low cost
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTPrototypes have been developed and tested over the last year for consistency and reliability. A large prototype is under development for deployment in small electric utility vehicle and boats for field testing in collaborations with companies. Mass production of fuel cells is in the planning stage.
Product Information and Development Status
Intellectual Property Status
Clean Technology - Energy delivery
Engines & Power Electronics - Motors
CONTACT INFORMATIONFor current licensing status, please contact our team at [email protected] or phone 608.263.2500. (Clicking this link will open a contact form in a popup window. If you have problems viewing the form, try disabling your popup blocker software.)
The WiSys Technology Foundation serves the University of Wisconsin System comprehensive campuses by patenting and licensing discoveries to leading companies in Wisconsin, the United States and worldwide. Established in 2000 by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the UW System, WiSys is building the next generation of patent and licensing opportunities by fostering collaborations among campuses, private research organizations and industry, facilitating high-tech research with grant programs, and promoting student training for employment in a knowledge-based economy. WiSys's income is distributed to the UW campuses, the inventors and their departments to grow future discoveries and educational opportunities.