Fuel Cell Membrane Measurement System for Manufacturing

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007

$686K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Scribner Associates Incorporated
150 E. Connecticut Ave
Southern Pines, NC 28387
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Successful adoption of fuel cells by the automotive market demands reducing the cost, and increasing the quality and consistency, of proton exchange membrane materials. To achieve these goals, tools and procedures will be needed to measure the through-thickness resistance, one of the key parameters of fuel cell membranes. This project will develop an automated, high-throughput membrane measurement system to enhance manufacturing quality control, increase manufacturing efficiency, and decrease membrane cost. The cornerstone of this measurement technology is a novel electrode design, which will permit rapid, reproducible, and accurate measurements. In Phase I, a novel electrode was developed and shown to facilitate the accurate, repeatable measurement of the through-thickness resistance (or conductivity) of bare as-manufactured membranes. Robust, user-friendly test hardware for rapid reproducible measurement also was developed. In Phase II, the system will be further refined by developing: (1) an easy-to-use automated cell fixture with integrated, optimized, high-durability electrodes; (2) application-specific control and measurement electronics, and user-interface software; and (3) robust measurement protocols for high accuracy and repeatable operation. A prototype of the membrane measurement system will be evaluated using production materials and established protocols. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The measurement system should improve the manufacturing of fuel cell membranes and thereby lower fuel cell costs. In turn, lower fuel cell membrane costs will accelerate market entry and growth of this technology, notably into the crucial but cost-sensitive automotive sector.