This bipolar plate is made of ORNL-developed ferritic stainless steel alloy for use in fuel cells.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory performs research that addresses the barriers facing the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cells, with the ultimate goals of decreasing our dependence on oil, reducing carbon emissions, and enabling clean, reliable power generation.
Through collaborative research and development, ORNL is creating materials and technologies to establish a hydrogen infrastructure and for hydrogen storage onboard vehicles. As part of these efforts, researchers are developing steel-concrete composite underground storage tanks and low-cost carbon fiber.
ORNL is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) leading resource for characterization of fuel cell materials through electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Researchers also conduct studies of infrastructure deployment scenarios and fuel cell vehicle market analysis to provide data for industry leaders and policy makers to use in strategic decision-making.
Other areas of research include:
ORNL’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program works in partnership with industry, academia, and other national laboratories to support DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Program coordinates the activities that address hydrogen technologies among the DOE offices of EERE, Fossil Energy, Nuclear Energy, and Science.
The fuel cell research lab at NTRC can evaluate systems up to 3 kW.
Fuel cell characterization and evaluation at the National Transportation Research Center is aimed at supporting the development of this technology by analyzing fuel cell behavior under typical operating conditions. The five fuel cell test stands are fully automated to control flow rates, humidity, electronic resistance, and temperature. An environmental chamber is available for evaluation down to -40°C, and a wide range of fuel cells can be evaluated from small-scale prototype fuel cells, less than 5 cm2; to large-scale, full-size systems up to 3 kW. Electrochemical analytical tools are available for measuring polarization curves, implementing drive cycles, performing cyclic voltammetry, impedance spectroscopy, and supplying up to 80 A and 3 V for regenerable fuel cell operation (electrolysis). Additionally, the research facility is equipped with long-term battery backup systems to ensure uninterrupted power during durability evaluations.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy