The E-LIG-E project
E-LIG-E proposes a new way for portable energy generation, in the 1W to 100W power range. It is based on a hydrogen fuel cell. Starting from recent developments by the applicant group, a new ultralight polymeric fuel cell (PEM type) with high power density is proposed. The key for this development is the design of the electrodes. A dead-ended anode chamber capable for continuous water permeation, allows for self-regulation of humidification in the anode and 100% of hydrogen utilisation, since no conventional periodic purging is required. The air-breathing cathodic electrode operates in a completely passive mode, which is more suitable for portable applications, although it is more demanding for chemical stability of materials and mass transport issues.
An advanced deposition technique by electrospray will be used for the fabrication of the multilayer electrodes with high conductivity, chemical stability and transport properties. The electrospraying procedure has been applied by the group for more than ten years and has been optimised for tailor-made properties of the deposits.
The key concept in E-LIG-E is the integration of the current collectors in the electrodes to decrease both weight and volume of the distribution plates and the end-plates, which largely contribute to reduce the fuel cells power density. The new completely passive fuel cell design will also eliminate the weight and volume of unnecessary auxiliary systems and their associated power consumption, to make of this system a viable alternative for powering portable devices. The new electrodes have been already tested in single cells, showing their superior performance. E-LIG-E proposes the development of a planar fuel cell stack operating with hydrogen stored in metal hydride cartridges. The fuel cell system will be tested in our laboratory under realistic ambient conditions for portable devices. It will be adapted and integrated in a real application as demonstrator.
A complete life cycle analysis will be carried out by the specialised members of the research team for the developed system. A detailed study of the socio-economic impact and potential niche markets for commercialisation will allow evaluating our system in relation to other competing technologies for portable generation.