A prototype fuel cell that runs on ammonia could offer a cost-effective alternative to hydrogen.
The technology is under development by a team at the University of Delaware, and begins to overcome some of the difficulties associated with using ammonia in fuel cells: the proton exchange membrane fuel cell incompatibility and ammonia’s lower power production. To create their prototype, the team turned to hydrogen exchange membrane fuel cells that have been under study for more than ten years, and developed a fuel cell membrane that operates at a higher temperature to speed the ammonia oxidation. The team also found catalysts that are not damaged by ammonia.
According to lead author Yun Zhao, “With these improvements, we have demonstrated a new direct ammonia fuel cell prototype with a peak power density of 135 milliwatts per square centimeter, which closes much of the performance gap compared to hydrogen.”