A fuel cell converts the chemically bound energy of a fuel directly into electricity. This allows fuel cells to have a higher efficiency than traditional generators and power plants. There are different types of fuel cells, each with a different area of application. Thus, solid oxide fuel cells have a high operation temperature and is well suited for stationary applications, while polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) have a lower operation temperature and can be used in, e.g., cars. However, traditional PEMFCs can only use very pure hydrogen as a fuel and the low operation temperature of around 80 °C makes it hard to get rid of the surplus heat.
At the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage we work on high-temperature PEMFC (HT-PEMFC) for operation at approx. 160 °C. This has a number of advantages, including lower sensitivity to impurities in the hydrogen and easier heat management of the cells. This makes the auxiliary components of the fuel cell system simpler and cheaper. Two promising applications of HT-PEMFC is for transportation and for micro-CHP (combined heat and power) for single houses. Key research topics include development of new and improved materials, synthesis of catalysts, studies of electrode structures, and test of cells.
Uniquely, the entire value chain of the HT-PEMFC technology is present in Denmark: From fundamental research and development of materials and cells at DTU, over cell manufacture (Danish Power Systems A/S) and modules (Serenergy A/S, IRD Fuel Cells A/S) to systems integration (Dantherm Power A/S). The technology development is carried out within the framework of a national strategy and roadmap for HT-PEMFC, drawn up by the Danish Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in collaboration with the key actors.