New Direct Alcohol and Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Naval and Aeronautical Applications (PILCONAER)

Monday, 27 July 2015
Hall 2 (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre)
J. Mosa (Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio (CSIC)), C. del Rio (Institute of Polymer Science and Technology (ICTP-CSIC)), E. Morales (Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Polímeros (CSIC)), M. A. Raso (Fac. CC. Químicas – Universidad Complutense de Madrid), T. J. Leo (ETSI Navales – Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), J. Maellas (National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA)), M. Aparicio, B. Moreno, and E. Chinarro (Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio (CSIC))
In the current context of demand for reliable, low cost and low environmental impact energy sources, many countries and companies are mostly focused on fuel cells (FC) in fields as transportation and stationary power generation and portable devices. Lately, FCs have begun to be applied in naval and aeronautical systems due to its high efficiency, low noise and environmental advantages. These applications could range from propulsion systems to auxiliary power units (APU). The main problems associated with the use of FCs in these areas are the current high cost due to the materials used, i.e. Nafion and Pt, the lack of durability testing in these specific conditions, security issues to flammability and high H2 pressures and low availability as a fuel, or the toxicity of methanol used as a fuel, and specific parameters such as weight in aircraft applications and volume in marine applications. Currently it is working on each of these issues, and at this point the ethanol as direct fuel is considered crucial. The use of ethanol as fuel has the advantage of easy transportation, storage and refueling, and is nontoxic. Bioethanol is a promising energy source, produced from raw materials containing sugar or starch. These raw materials exists in all parts of the world and is renewable, which involves the use of local energy sources contributing to the diversification of energy supply, reducing import dependence, increasing security of supply and generating new opportunities for agriculture.

The main objective of the proposal is the development of low power stacks (stacks) fed with methanol (DMFC) and ethanol (DEFC) based on the development of new catalysts and membranes. The materials are considered first from the point of view of application in FCs fed with H2 (PEMFC) to be optimized and used on FCs fed directly with alcohols. An important particular objective is the development of cells fed with ethanol in alkaline medium in order to eliminate the use of Pt as the catalyst and increase the efficiency of the electrochemical FC while cost is decreased. The proposed development of new FCs fed with alcohols, especially ethanol, is considered a technology of sustainable use, further commitment to the restoration of the natural environment and biodiversity conservation.

The consortium combines groups: skilled in synthesis and characterization of materials (CSIC); expert in the development and evaluation of FC stacks (UPM and INTA) and with the ability to develop physical and mathematical models to predict the behavior of the fuel cell equipped for the MEAs fabricated (UCM). Four companies have shown interest in the proposal, as well as participation according to preliminary results.