University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

UD awarded $1.8 million through new ARPA-E program aimed at transforming energy storage, conversion

The University of Delaware has been awarded $1.8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) through its new IONICS (Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids) program. IONICS project teams are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products.

Led by Yushan Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering, the research at UD will focus on creating a series of polymer-based hydroxide exchange membranes (HEMs).

“Our HEMs provide excellent mechanical robustness while maintaining chemical stability and high conductivity,” says Yan. “Our goal is to develop a process to easily synthesize the polymer at scale, creating large area membranes for testing that are thinner than human hair. Production costs will be minimized by using lower cost ingredients in the manufacturing process.”

This membrane work is a critical part of a larger overall effort at UD to make platinum-free fuel cells a commercial reality for zero-emission cars. Yan’s group is addressing what is perhaps the biggest challenge facing fuel cells — cost.