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Cornell energy center receives $12.6M in renewed funding for alkaline fuel cell work

Cornell’s Center for Alkaline-Based Energy Solutions (CABES) has received renewal funding of $12.6 million for a four-year period to continue its work developing advanced fuel cell technologies in alkaline media.

The center, part of the Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) program supported by the US Department of Energy, was created in 2018 with an initial $10.75-million grant from the DOE Office of Science.

In the proposal, the center’s mission was outlined as understanding the nature, structure and dynamic of electrocatalysis in alkaline media, integrating theory and computational methods. Faculty said their work could also establish the basis for ushering in a highly efficient alkaline-based energy technology society.

Over the past four years, CABES has made fundamental discoveries that are advancing the field, getting us ever closer to the broad deployment of these high-efficiency and environmentally benign energy technologies.

—Héctor Abruña, the Émile M. Chamot Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, in the College of Arts and Sciences, and leader of the CABES team

Abruña’s research explores electrocatalysis in alkaline (non-acidic) media, which could result in high-efficiency and high-performance fuel cells, electrolyzers and other hydrogen technologies at a greatly reduced cost, as well as novel materials and architectures for electrical energy storage, such as batteries and supercapacitors.

Cornell-affiliated members of CABES include professors Tomás Arias (physics); Lena Kourkoutis and David Muller (applied physics); Joel Brock (applied physics and director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source); Geoffrey Coates, Robert DiStasio and Brett Fors (chemistry); Emmanuel Giannelis (materials science and vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy); and Andrej Singer, Jin Suntivich and Rich Robinson (materials science). Paul Mutolo ’94 (chemistry) serves as CABES executive director and director of external partnerships and Danielle Hanes serves as the center manager.

Other contributors hail from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, the National Renewal Energy Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

CABES was one of 42 centers awarded funding in 2018; this year, more than $540 million was given out to 65 universities and national labs.

In addition to the federal funding, CABES is being considered for additional support from New York State, specifically, through grants from Empire State Development and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.


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