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UC Riverside's Yushan Yan Selected for Grant for Next-Generation Fuel Cell Resea


UC Riverside's Yushan Yan Selected for ARPA-E Grant for Next-Generation Fuel Cell Research

New technologies have potential to reduce costs, improve efficiency and make fuel cells economically viable

(November 24, 2009)

UC Riverside Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Yushan Yan's proposal Enlarge

UC Riverside Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Yushan Yan's proposal "Quanternary Phosphonium-based Hydroxide Exchange Membranes" is one of 37 selected for negotiations for the U.S. Department of Energy's newly formed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awards for transformative energy research projects. Yan's proposed fuel cell technology can be used to replace international combustion engines for powering vehicles, resulting in much-reduced or zero emissions.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – UC Riverside (UCR) Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Yushan Yan's proposal "Quanternary Phosphonium-based Hydroxide Exchange Membranes" is one of 37 selected for negotiations for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) newly formed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awards for transformative energy research projects.

DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced the funding decisions, which were the result of reviewing more than 3,700 qualified concept papers that were submitted.

Yan’s proposed project focuses on the development of a new generation of high-performance hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFCs). In the letter informing him of the selection, the DOE cited Yan's application as "...among those of the highest scientific and technical merit, and is part of an ARPA-E portfolio of high impact projects that have great potential to revolutionize the U.S. energy sector."

By switching fuel cell electrochemical reactions from an acidic medium to a basic one and utilizing a highly conductive hydroxide exchange membrane (HEM), high-performance hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFCs) are innovative and radically different from the proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) that have been intensively researched and developed in the past two decades.

HEMFCs have ability to solve some of the most significant commercialization barriers of PEMFCs, including catalysts cost and durability, while at the same time achieving PEMFCs’ high power and energy density. Yan’s ARPA-E project will develop a series of technologies to produce commercially viable high-performance Quaternary Phosponium (QP)-based HEMs with high hydroxide conductivity, outstanding alkaline-stability and suitable dimension-stability.

The project will help the U.S. maintain its technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies. More specifically, the proposed fuel cell technology can be used to replace internal combustion engines for powering vehicles, resulting in much-reduced or zero emissions. The fuel cell technology and its reverse operation as an electrolyzer together can also be used for energy storage that is necessary for the efficient use of wind/solar-based electricity.

If successful, and assuming a reasonable market share, the technology will reduce gasoline consumption by 163 million barrels and eliminate 60 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year.

Modeled after the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E was established under the America Competes Act of 2007. Yan’s project is part of the first round of projects funded under ARPA-E, which is receiving a total of $400 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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