SBIR Phase I: Nano-Porous Silicon Gas Diffusion Electrode for Miniaturized Fuel Cells

Period of Performance: 01/01/2004 - 12/31/2004

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Moducell Incorportated
2927 Club Oak
Fayetteville, AR 99999
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project addresses fabrication of micro- and nano-machined silicon gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) for miniaturized Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Novel micro- and nano-machining techniques will enable application of thin-film inorganic membranes with resultant miniaturization and elimination of methanol crossover. The typical PEM fuel cell is designed around a Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) in which the membrane is a self-supporting mechanical member. Current state-of-the-Art PEM fuel cells apply relatively thick membranes of NAFION or other organic materials, with GDEs pressed onto each side at high temperatures and pressures to form the MEA. Shifting the requirement for mechanical support from the membrane to one of the GDEs allows the membrane to be made up to two orders of magnitude thinner. This approach opens up broad possibilities for new membrane materials and miniaturization of fuel cells to meet application needs. Thin-film materials have not previously been applied as electrolytic membranes because the integration problems of applying thin films over porous GDEs have not been solved. This project will demonstrate that a GDE with thin-film membrane can be constructed from micro- and nano-machined silicon, with the silicon GDE providing the required mechanical support.