Motorola, Engelhard, UM to Develop Mini Fuel Cell

August 11, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

Motorola Inc. (Austin, TX), Engelhard Corp. and the University of Michigan (UM) have been named recipients of an Advanced Technology Program (ATP) award to develop a miniature catalytic fuel processor to provide power for a wide range of fuel-cell-based portable electronic devices, such as laptop computers, cell phones and two-way radios.

The Motorola-Engelhard-UM collaboration was one of 16 projects announced on July 1, 2003, to earn funding under the ATP, which is administered by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The miniature fuel cell power source uses a catalyst micro-channel reactor for methanol steam reforming (MSR) to generate hydrogen. Using hydrogen from the miniature fuel cell processor in the fuel cell provides distinct performance advantages over methanol, the current fuel of choice for most fuel-cell-based, portable technologies. Benefits include more compact power sources and a greater power range for even smaller and lighter consumer products.

In a three-year project, Engelhard will lead the search for an improved and practical MSR catalyst, and Motorola Labs will work to develop a miniature ceramic reformer. The University of Michigan College of Engineering will collaborate with Engelhard to search for new MSR catalysts and with Motorola Labs to model the chemical and physical processes that occur within the miniature reformer.