Sandia Labs Developing New Fuel Cell Membrane

May 06, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) reported that they are working to develop new membranes that could bring micro fuel cells closer to being able to power everything from cell phones to automobiles. Lab researchers are working on a new type of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) that would allow fuel cells to be powered with fuels such as glucose, methanol and hydrogen.

Sandia's fuel cell and membrane team, headed by researcher Chris Cornelius, recently demonstrated that a new polymer could operate at temperatures as high as 140 °C while producing 1.1 W/cm² of electricity. The polymers being developed may be enabling material that could have an impact on the fuel cell community and help Sandia become recognized as a fuel cell research organization.

"We see this material as having the potential of being integrated into fuel cells, ranging from microwatts to kilowatts," Cornelius said. "Such a broad power range means that this Sandia Polymer Electrolyte Alternative could be used in a fuel cell to power everything from sensors, cell phones, laptops and automobiles."