UConn researchers creating tubular PEM gas cell


A group of UConn researchers led by Jasna Jankovic, an assistant professor within the Division of Supplies Science and Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering, has devised a novel design for a tubular polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) gas cell.

Planar gas cells will be cumbersome, have compression points, and uneven present distribution. Different drawbacks embrace issues with reactant gasoline transport, extra water elimination, and fabrication challenges related to their design. The U Conn researchers say their design addresses these shortcomings and improves on current tubular PEM gas cell designs, most of which take a planar PEM gas cell and curl it right into a cylinder.

Jankovic and two grad college students, Sara Pedram and Sean Small, took a extra holistic strategy that rethinks tubular gas cell design from the bottom up. Their patent-pending idea might probably have almost twice the power density of different tubular PEM gas cells, be 50% lighter, have a replaceable internal electrode and electrolyte (if liquid), a leak-proof configuration, and require fewer treasured metals.

In a paper introduced on the 241st ECS assembly in June, Pedram and Jankovic famous that tubular-shaped PEMFC provides a number of benefits over planar one, together with decrease stress drop, environment friendly water elimination, lowered mass transport losses, and price discount owing to eradicating one in every of gasoline diffusion layer/bipolar plate (GDL/BPP) facet.


Planar gas cells are constructed utilizing sandwich-like stacks of enormous, rectangular stream discipline plates made from graphite or metallic, which account for about 80% of their weight and 40% of their value. UConn’s design makes use of a single tube-shaped stream discipline that reduces its weight by half.

This work developed a carbon nanofiber (CNF)/Pt-based cathode for a tubular gas cell. The tubular CNF assist for Pt catalyst was fabricated using the electrospinning methodology. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) was used because the precursor. The electroless deposition of Pt utilizing the chloroplatinic acid options was utilized to supply well-dispersed low Pt loading nanowires. The tubular CNF/Pt electrodes had been characterised by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), ex-situ cyclic voltammetry to find out the CF and Pt morphology and feasibility of the ready layer in PEMFC utility.

SEM pictures indicated that growing the Pt precursor focus within the plating bathtub results in larger Pt loading and bigger Pt clusters on the CNF floor. The calculated electrochemical lively floor space (ECSA) pattern imparts that prime Pt loading is much less favorable as thick Pt layers result in low Pt utilization and elevated materials prices. ECSA outcomes agreed with SEM pictures, suggesting that the medium Pt focus (1.5 g L-1 Pt precursor) developed a homogenous Pt distribution and comparable Pt floor space of 24 m2 gPt-1 for the Pt loading of 0.046 mg cm-2, proving the feasibility of the proposed course of.

—Pedram and Jnkovic (2022)

The U Conn tubular PEM gas cell idea continues to be in discovery and has I-Corps and Partnership for Innovation (PFI) funding from the Nationwide Science Basis (NSF). This program was created to spur the interpretation of elementary analysis to {the marketplace}, encourage collaboration between academia and business, and prepare NSF-funded school, college students, and different researchers in innovation and entrepreneurship expertise.

Collaborating analysis groups have the chance to interview potential prospects to study extra about their wants. Jankovic and her group carried out some 60 interviews throughout a UConn Accelerator program in early 2022 that helped them dimension up the market and reply necessary questions on whether or not or to not begin an extended course of, make the product themselves, or license the expertise to a different firm.

Jankovic led the group as PI, with Pedram and Small performing as Entrepreneurial Lead and Co-Lead respectively. Lenard Bonville, the group’s industrial mentor, will assist the group together with his many years of business expertise. The group will conduct one other set of 100 interviews with business to find the marketplace for their product and get steering on its remaining design. NSF-Partnership for Innovation (PFI) funding will then be used to develop a prototype and pursue commercialization.

Jankovic’s group is working towards acquiring a full patent on their design and totally testing the idea. Within the quick time period, they’re targeted on commercializing the expertise and attracting potential companions.

Jankovic envisions making a gas cell roughly the scale of a AA battery nevertheless, as a scalable and modular expertise, it could possibly be scaled-up to any sensible dimension. The cylindrical form would enable for extra gas cells to occupy the identical quantity of house as these in use now and be cheaper to fabricate, Invernale stated. Jankovic views her gas cell design as a alternative for Lithium-Ion batteries.


  • S. Pedram, J. Jankovic (2022) “Fabrication and Efficiency Analysis of Tubular Catalyst Layer for Proton Alternate Membrane Gasoline Cell” ECS Assembly Abstracts MA2022-01(35):1429-1429
    doi: 10.1149/MA2022-01351429mtgabs

  • A. Tang, L. Crisci, S. Pedram, J. Jankovic (2020) “Comparability of planar and tubular stream discipline plates for proton trade membrane gas cells (PEMFCs) by simulation” ECS Transactions, 98 (9) 343-353 doi: 10.1149/09809.0343ecst


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