Fuel Cell: new design and manufacturing

Coordinator: Marcello Romagnoli

Members: The research group is composed by Valeria Cannillo, Fontanesi Claudio, Giovanardi Roberto, Fabio Immovilli, Cristina Leonelli, Messori Massimo, Marcello Romagnoli, Paolo Santangelo, Paolo Tartarini .

The sub-group “Fuel cell design and manufacturing” has the main mission to study new designs for fuel cells with the aim to improve the performances and contemporarily, reducing the cost. The two items are fundamental for the success of the technology on the markets where the fuel cells can have an important role. The group strongly believe that there is a lot of space of improvement both in the field of materials and of the whole design. Also the one of the production is considered challenging, but potentially very promising for the cost reducing and quality raising.

- New designs for fuel cells

The philosophy that leads the group is to develop PEM Fuel Cell without the presence of polymeric membrane as electrolyte.
This permits to obtain several goals:

  • semplify the design and the cost of production of the cell; 
  • increase the time life:
  • reduce the amount of catalyst need to have good chemical kinetic thank to the increasing of temperature inside the cell permitted by the absence of the polymeric membrane. 

At the moment a new prototype membraneless with the above characteristics is in phase of realisation. It has already passed the proof of concept with interesting perspectives. 


- Production process

The strategy for the improvement of the production process is to use well-established techniques in other industrial fields, but not used in the production of traditional or innovative fuel cells. In this way it is possible to obtain several advantages:

  • Reduction of the "time-to-market" for the application of the techniques because the market already offers commercial machines with high reliability.
  • The adoption of mature technologies permits to reduce also the risks connected with their use in new industrial fields. In fact they are well known and it is easier to adapt them to the new production.
  • the cost of the introduction of such technologies are low because it is widely possible to adapt existing commercial machines.

The unit collaborates with all the other ones of the interdipartimental group, in particular with: Electrochemistry, Electric Drives and Power Electronics, Catalysis and Economy for all the aspects connected with the market.

In addition it maintain strong contact with all the industries that can offer interesting technologies for the production of fuel cells and are strongly motivated to enter in this market. 



 Instruments  Applications
  •  Rotational rheometers
Study of suspension's rheology for FC catalyst inks 
  •  Specific Surface Area  (BET)
Surface area measure for catalyst nanopowder
  •  Zeta Potential
Measurement of nanometric size distribution and  zeta potential of catalyst ink suspensions
  •  3D Printer for Catalytic Ink  Printing
MEA manufacturing
  •  Potentiostat / galvanostate  VERSASTAT3
Electrochemical measurements (characteristic curves, impedance)  in the range 0-10V and 0-650mA
  •  Microwave reactor for  nanoparticle synthesis
Synthesis and coating of micro and nanoparticles
  •  EPD-electrophoretic  depostion cell
Metal or conductive electrode coating