Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Guest Speaker


Opportunities and Fundamental Challenges for the Development and Deployment of Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells


Prof. William E. Mustain


University of South Carolina - College of Engineering and Computing


Friday, September 27, 2019 at 11:00:00 AM


GTMI Building, Room GTMI/Callaway Bldg. Auditorium


Seung Woo Lee


In recent years, advances in alkaline exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) with anion exchange membrane (AEM) solid polymer electrolytes have gained traction due to their distinct, and potentially game-changing, advantages over proton exchange membrane fuel cells. There has been growing excitement in the past 2-3 years especially as AEMFCs are now reaching a stage in their development where state-of-the-art cells are reaching comparable power densities to the incumbent proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and are able to operate stably for more than 1000 hours. Additionally, researchers have developed highly active platinum group metal (PGM)-free catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction at the cathode. However, AEMFCs still need to address at least 3 critical issues if they are to be deployed in the field: 1) water management in AEMFCs is more complex than PEMFCs and there is a tendency for significant water accumulation and flooding at the anode, sacrificing both performance and longevity; 2) there is a need to reduce costs significantly below the incumbent technology. To do this, cells will need to be completely PGM-free, and there are no viable PGM-free materials that have been proposed in the literature to date; and 3) management of CO2 and mitigation of CO2-related performance losses. This presentation will begin with an introduction to how AEMFCs operate, their similarities and differences to PEMFCs. Then, state-of-the-art performance and durability will be shown along with an explanation for how these two were systematically improved over the past few years due to advances in materials as well as innovations in electrode design and reactor engineering. Next, the three issues above- water management, PGM-free anodes and CO2 management- will be discussed, with a focus on the fundamental thermodynamic, kinetic and transport barriers that remain. Finally, an outlook on the future of the technology and important areas for research will be discussed. For more information about this project and the rest of our group, please visit https://www.mustainlab.com


William (Bill) Mustain is a Full Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina. In 2017, Professor Mustain moved to USC from the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut where he was an Associate Professor and the United Technologies Corporation Professor of Engineering Innovation. He joined UConn as an Assistant Professor in 2008, and was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. Over the past twelve years, Professor Mustain has worked in several areas related to electrochemical energy generation and storage including: high capacity materials for Li-ion batteries, catalysts and supports for proton exchange membrane and anion exchange membrane fuel cells and electrolyzers, electrochemical synthesis of fuels, electrochemical control of biological systems, the purposeful use of carbonates in low temperature electrochemical systems, and the electrochemical capture and utilization of CO2. Professor Mustain has been the PI or Co-PI on approximately $8M of externally funded research projects. He has published over 100 peer reviewed articles to date and has over 100 invited and conference talks. He also has authored three book chapters and three pending US patents. He has been the recipient of several awards including the 2009 Illinois Institute of Technology Young Alumnus Award, 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Award, 2014 Connecticut Quality Improvement Platinum Award, 2014 Supramaniam Srinivasan Young Investigator Award (Awarded by the Energy Technology Division of the Electrochemical Society) and 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar Fellowship.


Refreshments will be served.