Novel polymer membrane could give boost to fuel cell vehicles

Renewed investments in hydrogen fuel cell technologies and infrastructure by companies like Amazon, nations like China, and automakers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are sparking sales and fresh interest in the vast possibilities of polymer-electrolyte fuel cells. This fresh interest could revolutionize transportation and fill streets with vehicles whose only exhaust fumes are water vapor.

But that vision of clean, green cars and trucks is stymied by the need not only for massive infrastructure investment, but also for more efficient processes in the fuel cells themselves. Innovations that lower the cost of production – meaning lower prices – and that open the door to more vehicle segments, including performance cars, could drive greater adoption.

A team of researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has now created a novel polymeric material with the potential for solving both these problems. The researchers include Miguel Modestino, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU [Tandon] and Yoshi Okamoto, a professor of chemical engineering and director of the Polymer Research Institute at NYU Tandon.