In the fuel cell vehicle, catalyst comprises nearly 20% of the fuel cell system cost. Platinum is the primary metal that is used for PEMFC catalyst nowadays. Without a technology breakthrough, it will be difficult to significantly reduce the amount of platinum used for the catalyst. The high cost of platinum will remain an obstacle. Therefore, the industry must find alternatives to replace platinum in order to make fuel cell affordable.
Mpower is able to use base metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, and etc. to replace platinum as catalyst. With our functional porous material technology, the catalytic performance of these metals is similar or equal to that of platinum. Therefore, the cost of catalyst in fuel cell production can be significantly reduced because the cost of base metal is 100 times less than that of platinum.
The criterion for PEM selection includes thickness, mechanical strength, stability/durability, and etc. Among these parameters, thickness is one of the most important. A thinner membrane is not only more cost effective, but thin membranes have better ion conductivity. The challenge in using thinner membrane is that the thinner membrane can allow hydrogen and oxygen gas to pass through, resulting in low fuel efficiency and durability issues.
Perfluorosulfonic Acid (PFSA) is fluoride-based material that is currently the most commonly used material for membranes. However, fluoride-based materials in the environment are causing concerns about toxicity, and the use of PFSA membranes may be regulated in the future. To avoid these issues, the industry needs to find a substitute material.
Mpower’s team can control the pore size of our material to maximize ion conductivity while minimizing crossover of hydrogen and oxygen. Because of the increased resistance to crossover, the membrane invented by Mpower can be thinner than most commercially used PEM. In addition, Mpower’s high performance material contains no fluoride material, so using this material for PEM will not have any environmental or health issues.