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Grantee Research Project Results

Grid-independent Electricity Generation for Remote Areas Based on a Unitized Hydroxide Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell System

EPA Grant Number: SU834726
Title: Grid-independent Electricity Generation for Remote Areas Based on a Unitized Hydroxide Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell System
Investigators: Tam, Kawai , Chiu, Marcus , Contreras, Christian , Lee, Joon-Bok , Skovgard, Jason , Yan, Yushan
Current Investigators: Tam, Kawai , Chavez, Steven , Chiu, Marcus , Contreras, Christian , Hammar, Gregory , Lee, Joon-Bok , Skovgard, Jason , Vandergrift, Trevor , Yan, Yushan
Institution: University of California - Riverside
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water



To investigate a unitized regenerative hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell system (URHEMFC) as a means to store and generate electricity cleanly for remote communities.


A unitized regenerative fuel cell refers to a fuel cell system that can be used as a fuel cell to generate power using hydrogen as fuel, or in reverse as an electrolyzer to split water to generate hydrogen. The key innovation is a newly developed quaternary phosphonium-based hydroxide exchange membrane (HEM) that allows use of inexpensive catalysts such as nickel and silver in lieu of platinum; thus significantly reducing the costs of the system.

Expected Results:

The featured HEM has been previously demonstrated to be efficient in a hydrogen fuel cell. We intend to demonstrate the capability of this HEM to be used in an electrolyzer and integrate the system into a unitized regenerative fuel cell system. Solar photovoltaic energy will be used to power the water electrolysis reaction to generate hydrogen and oxygen. The stored hydrogen and oxygen will then be available to generate electricity in the fuel cell system and resupply the water for subsequent electrolysis. This system uses renewable energy, generates electricity that is applicable to rural and remote areas, and does not generate pollution.

Supplemental Keywords:

portable, energy storage, proton exchange membrane, PEM,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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