|3M’s current 7-layer MEA.|
The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded 3M a set of grants totaling $17.3 million to further the progress of projects aimed at improved fuel cell membranes and advanced electrocatalysts—two of the key components of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs).
In all, eight companies and nine universities and national laboratories were selected for a total of $100 million in funding from the DOE.
Company scientists are working on advanced membranes with improved chemical and mechanical properties and expanded operating temperature ranges. In addition, 3M is further developing its proprietary nanostructured, thin-film electrocatalyst technology that has produced more robust performance with less platinum by reducing surface area loss under repetitive high-voltage cycling. The new catalyst also eliminates carbon corrosion which impedes conventional electrocatalysts.
Earlier this year, Dr. Mark Debe, 3M senior staff scientist, received the DOE’s Hydrogen Program R&D Award for outstanding achievement in his team’s work on advanced electrocatalysts.
While technical challenges remain, the track record of progress has been very impressive and gives one confidence going forward. These awards will allow us to continue to focus our technical efforts on addressing key remaining materials and performance needs by approaches which are scaleable and commercially viable.—Dr. Eric Funkenbusch, director of 3M’s Fuel Cell Program
3M currently offers 5- and 7-layer MEAs for fuel cells in a variety of applications.