About DuPont Fuel Cells
How can we easily convert chemical energy into electrical energy? DuPont scientists are participating in several government programs supporting fuel cell and membrane research, application and materials development. Our role in the development of fuel cells is a natural fit, considering the company’s expertise in fields such as polymer chemistry, materials engineering, and conductive coatings—all areas which are critical components of fuel cell technology.
At the most basic level, Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells are small, highly efficient devices that convert chemical energy to electrical energy. PEM fuel cells are comprised of these three major elements:
- fuel processor
- fuel stack, which is the energy-producing core of the fuel cell
- power conditioner, which stabilizes current or converts DC to AC
For instance, DuPont completed a project with MTI Micro Fuel Cells, sponsored by the National Institute of Science and Technology's Advanced Technology Program, to develop a microportable fuel cell system for industrial and consumer electronics.
DuPont is leading a durable PEM membrane project (partnering with United Technologies Corporation) that is sponsored by the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.
DuPont is also working with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and their prime contractor, Honeywell, on the U.S. Army Collaborative Technology Alliance for Power and Energy—an effort to develop fuel cells for Soldier Power.
In addition to its government-based efforts, DuPont is also striving to make fuel cells a commercial reality, with automotive, consumer electronics and residential power being the targeted markets. DuPont is currently engaged with start-up Smart Fuel Cell in Munich, Germany, to sell fuel cell-based portable power devices into recreational markets. Within the next two years, DuPont, working with their partners, expects to make commercial inroads in the consumer electronics and stationary power markets. Since transportation applications still require fundamental advances in materials, as well as system technologies, the timeline for automotives remains a longer-term prospect.