South Carolina Researchers Making the Fuel Cell Industry More Sustainable

South Carolina Researchers Making the Fuel Cell Industry More Sustainable
The development of Carbon Composite Catalyst for PEM Fuel Cells is critical to mass deployment of fuel cells
Dr. Branko Popov, Director for the Center of Electrochemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina is making the fuel cell industry more sustainable by developing materials and methods that reduce the need for platinum and other precious metals in fuel cells, while maintaining high levels of efficiency and durability. Regarded as one of the best materials for highly efficient fuel cells, Platinum is very expensive and is mined from specific areas around the world contributing to its rarity, high expense and carbon footprint. Dr. Popov said, “If the 500 million vehicles on the road around the world were converted to use current hydrogen fuel cell technology, the global supply of platinum could only sustain the 500 million vehicles for 15 years.”
Dr. Popov and his team of researchers recently developed a highly active and stable Carbon Composite Catalyst (CCC) process for oxygen reduction in PEM fuel cells. Using low-cost Cobalt (Co), Nitrogen (N), and Carbon (C), the Carbon Composite Catalyst showed a potential for oxygen reduction of approximately 90% of that of the best platinum/carbon catalysts. The CCC PEM fuel cell is capable of producing the same amount of energy that a typical platinum fuel cell would normally produce, but at a lower cost to the end user. Additionally, the CCC PEM fuel cell was just as durable as typical platinum fuel cells. Dr. Popov said, “After 480 hours of continuous fuel cell use, no significant performance degradation was observed.”
As the worldwide transportation industry expands, Dr. Branko Popov and his team are continuing their work on making the hydrogen and fuel cell industry much more sustainable and cost effective. Dr. Shannon Baxter-Clemmons, Executive Director of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance, and University of South Carolina graduate said, “Dr. Popov’s work, as well as the many other researchers at the University of South Carolina, is solving the challenges of hydrogen production and storage and cost. These breakthroughs will make the hydrogen and fuel cell industry more affordable and sustainable.”
About Dr. Branko Popov
Currently, Dr. Popov is professor at USC and Director of the Center for Electrochemical Engineering at USC. His research interest in the area of power sources focuses on new materials for cathodes and anodes for primary and secondary batteries capacitors and fuel cells and development of performance models for capacitors, fuel cells and to predict capacity fade for lithium ion batteries. Office of Naval Research and American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society have funded his research group in last ten years to develop alternative coatings to protect hard alloys from hydrogen embrittlement and to substitute cadmium plating.

About the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance
The Alliance is a non-profit partnership of government, business, academia and citizens working together to grow economies of local communities, the state and the nation, to enable energy security and to limit our environmental footprint with the use of hydrogen fuel cells.

See 3 other posts submitted by Andrew Epting. Find articles, people, and videos related to: Branko Popov, Fuel Cells, hydroge, sustainability, USC