Form 9.B Project Summary


Chron: 972104

Proposal Number: 19.02-6744A

Project Title: Low-Cost, Partially Fluorinated Nanostructured Polymer for PEM Fuel Cells

Technical Abstract (Limit 200 words)

The specific power of PEM fuel cells could surpass that of internal combustion engines if lighter, more conductive membranes can be found. Perfluorinated polymers (Nafion) have exceptional stability, because of their high fluorine content. However, the high associated cost and weight and need for complex humidification systems make perfluorinated PEMs noncompetitive for portable and automotive applications. A new class of proton-conducting polymers is proposed, which possess nanosized hydrophillic/hydrophobic domains like those found in Nafion but contain less fluorine. Unlike linear-chain polymers, the polymer-backbone structure is spherical and coated with functional groups to allow spontaneous formation of ion-conducting, interstitial cavities/surfaces outside the polymer core. This microstructure separates proton motion from polymer-chain motion, to allow unhindered ion mobility even when most of the polymer is dry. The functional groups forming the ion channel walls provide versatile reaction pathways for controlling the chemical environment surrounding the proton.

These groups will be derivatized with various quantities of triflate-based acids, fluorinated protecting groups, and hydrating/solvating groups to achieve improved PEM properties. TPL will leverage its production experience in nanocomposites and thin-film dielectrics to process polymers into cost-effective PEMs, that will be tested in prototype H2/O2 cells at Sandia National Laboratories to determine structure/performance relationships.

Potential Commercial Applications (Limit 200 words) The cost of the proton-exchange membrane is the largest cost driver for PEM fuel cells. The benefit of a successful program will be the development of economical, lightweight fuel cells to power portable electronics, such as laptop computers, video equipment, lights, and electrically powered tools; a several hundred million dollar market. And the PEM fuel cell is the power plant of choice for zero-emission vehicles if the membrane cost can be reduced by a factor of six.

Name and Address of Principal Investigator (Name,

Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

Larry J. Kepley, Ph.D.

TPL, Inc.

3921 Academy Parkway North, NE

Albuquerque , NM 87109-4416

Name and Address of Offeror (Firm Name, Mail Address,


William F. Hartman

TPL, Inc.

3921 Academy Parkway North, NE

Albuquerque , NM 87109-4416