Electrochemical Energy Conversion

Electrochemical processes are at the heart of efficient conversion between electrical and chemical energies. The objective of this division is to conduct scientific research and technological development for energy-efficient, low-cost, and robust electrochemical energy conversion in systems including polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC), solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC). The PEFC is the preferred solution for automotive fuel cell applications. Inefficiencies at low temperatures (ca. 80˚C) are leading to a focus on higher temperature (>100˚C) hydrogen proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Research addresses catalyst activity, support durability, and high temperature electrolyte identification and evaluation. SOFCs are utilized for stationary electricity generation at various scales. Research addresses developing a fundamental understanding of electrode and electrolyte materials and electrochemical events taking place in the SOFC, surface/interfacial catalytic processes on metal oxides, and electrode and electrolyte degradation. Electrolysis is used to produce hydrogen from electricity to respond to the forthcoming demand for hydrogen fuel. SOECs and related devices are examined from the perspective of activity and durability of electrolyte and electrode components. Other relevant energy storage concepts, e.g. batteries, are also addressed in division activities.