The Fuel Cell Research Laboratory is part of the Center for Fuel Cell Research at the University of Delaware; it is organized under the Department of Mechanical Engineering. We work on both the basic science and the practical application of fuel cells. Most of our projects involve hydrogen PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells, which are the most promising type for transportation use, but we have also done work on direct methanol fuel cells, which are useful in portable electronics applications.
The largest project in the FCRL is our fuel cell bus program; its mission is to research, build, and demonstrate four fuel cell powered transit vehicles in the state of Delaware. We currently have two 22-foot fuel cell buses operating on UD's campus, with the next vehicle (a 30-foot bus with improved batteries) scheduled to arrive in early 2011. The project also includes work on new and improved components for the buses: we are currently developing strategies for effectively cooling planar lithium titanate batteries, a replacement for mechanical hydrogen recirculation pumps, and improvements to our cell voltage monitoring system.
The FCRL also carries out basic research into the design and operation of fuel cells, hydrogen production and storage, and batteries. We are currently working on novel composite membranes for various applications, including to increase the service temperature of PEM fuel cells and to improve their freeze tolerance.