Prof. Bjerrum (left) was awarded the ForskEL-prize 2014 on behalf of Jens Oluf Jensen. The prize was awarded by Niels Fog, chairman of Energinet.dk. PHOTO: Torben Schøtt

DTU Energy Conversion awarded prize for best completed project 2013

Thursday 19 Jun 14

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Jens Oluf Jensen
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EnergiForsk2014

The energy research programs EUDP, ELFORSK, ForskVE, ForskEL and InnovationsFonden held their annual conference EnergiForsk2014 June 18 in Vejle, Denmark. Here they and participating firms and universities told of the different ways to support research and development and demonstrated new technologies and green solutions mm. The Danish programs to stimulate research and development were also presented, and the participants were also encouraged to network and make new deals as well as get coaching from the experts on project ideas, application deadlines, etc.

DTU Energy Conversion received on June 18 the ForskEL prize for the best completed project of 2013 for the project HotMEA. The award was presented at the conference EnergiForsk2014 to Professor Niels J. Bjerrum on behalf of Head of Section Jens Oluf Jensen by the chairman of energinet.dk, Niels Fog.

Project HotMEA received the ForskEL prize as the ‘best completed project in 2013’ due to many scientific achievements combined with a huge boost in technology-transfer from science to industrial production.

"HotMEA lifted the entire Danish HT-PEM technology, both scientifically and commercially. "
Thomas Steenberg, technical director at Danish Power Systems (DPS)

“HotMEA made our performance rates line up with the best in the world. We are at the forefront in high temperature polymer fuel cells, and after HotMEA we are now in the top 5 along with Korea, Germany and the U.S., both in materials development, in making the cells and in stacking them,” says Associate Professor Jens Oluf Jensen, Head of Section at DTU Energy Conversion and coordinator of the HotMEA project.

Lifted the technology out of the lab

HotMEA ran during the years 2009-2013, and the consortium behind HotMEA; DTU Energy Conversion and the three industrial partners Danish Power Systems (DPS), IRD and Dantherm, made several breakthroughs concerning the technology behind high-temperature polymer fuel cells (HT-PEMFC), laying the foundation for introduction of HT-PEMFC at the commercial markets.

Several partners had already helped establishing Denmark as an international frontrunner on this particular fuel cell technology by participating in prior projects, but HotMEA underlined the position significantly. And while DTU Energy Conversion reached new and vastly improved levels of expertise in researching materials and developing fuel cells, Danish Power Systems developed brand new methods and production equipment while IRD focused on the development of the technology stack. The collaboration worked flawlessly.

"Through HotMEA we got a grip on the process. It's a long haul to get the syntheses to work, but HotMEA lifted the whole thing out of the lab. Now we produce membrane and electrodes on a simple conveyor belt in long rolls. It is not yet roll-to-roll, but the production stage just before,” explains Jens Oluf Jensen, DTU.

80 times more effective

Scientifically HotMEA and associated projects lead to both improved PEM cell performance and significantly better membranes, again leading to better and more durable cells.

"We made cells before HotMEA and still make them, but HotMEA made it more reproducible and reduced the variability within the series," explains Jens Oluf Jensen and describes how researchers developed long polymer chains with a higher molecular weight, creating stronger membranes. The membranes were then even more reinforced, when the researchers succeeded in modifying the membranes via crosslinking them.

Better membranes contain more phosphoric acid and thus have higher conductivity.

"HotMEA lifted the entire Danish HT-PEM technology, both scientifically and commercially," says Thomas Steenberg, technical director at Danish Power Systems (DPS).

To DPS this lead to new manufacturing methods, allowing DPS to produce up to almost a kilo of polymer at a time. DPS thus went from 10 grams to 800 grams batches.

"The Danish development of high-temperature polymer fuel cells took a big leap forward through ForskEl Consortium HotMEA," continues Thomas Steenberg.

Stronger and better membranes

"Many of the things we work with are not finished products, but HotMEA was a long step on the road, and we established cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along the way. We have now had a graduate student in residence at MIT, and MIT is also part of a current project. The collaboration is largely due to our good results through HotMEA. So I am very grateful for the HotMEA-project and it fully deserves getting the ForskEL price," says Jens Oluf Jensen.

The prize for the best completed ForekELproject in 2013 was presented by the chairman of Energinet.dk, Niels Fog to Professor Niels J. Bjerrum, who received it on behalf of Jens Oluf Jensen.

HotMEA was financially supported by PSO funds from the ForskEL research program under energinet.dk.