Research work in the field of low temperature fuel cell systems and hydrogen production processes is done in close co-operation with partners from industry, AVL List GmbH, OMV AG and voestalpine Stahl GmbH. The research work done at the laboratory in the area of fuel cell systems focuses on Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFCs).
DMFCs are the only type of fuel cell that can be operated using liquid fuel without a reformer unit, thus combining the advantages of a hydrogen fuel cell with that of an easy-to-handle liquid fuel. A new system of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell with Circulating Electrolyte (DMFC-CE) is investigated. The DMFC-CE has the potential to solve the problem of methanol crossover (chemical short-circuiting) by circulating a liquid electrolyte with or without a solid electrolyte. Since the liquid electrolyte is pumped through the system, the fuel cell can be interrupted and deactivated, avoiding a loss of methanol between operating periods. The implications of operating parameters on stationary, as well as non-stationary behaviour of system components are investigated and optimised by tests and system modelling.
The hydrogen research concentrates on the newly developed process for hydrogen production, referred to as Reformer Sponge Iron Cycle (RESC). This process offers a relatively uncomplicated technique for producing hydrogen of appropriate purity on a high level of efficiency from natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons.