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Membrane-Electrode Structures for Low Cost Molecular Catalysts in Fuel Cells and Other Electrochemical Devices

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

A team of Berkeley Lab researchers has developed a technology to coat electrode surfaces with a homogeneous catalyst that has been immobilized within a polymer layer. The team demonstrated that a 3-D distributed array of nonplatinum catalysts can function well within the electrode layer of a membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) and showed that the method is practical for mounting homogeneous catalysts in scaled-up devices. By providing multiple layers of catalyst in a 3-D array, higher reaction kinetics are achieved due to the structure and the ability to stack catalysts on the electrode surface layer. This invention further shows that this construction can be used in a gas-diffusion electrode solid polymer electrolyte system, useful for fuel cells and solving many of the separation issues for electrosynthesis that have impeded the field for decades.


Considerable attention has been given to improving energy-conversion efficiency and the cost of PEM fuel cells. The traditional platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts used in such cells are expensive and lack efficiency. Using a non-PGM catalyst presents a more cost-competitive approach to MEAs. The group has shown that incorporating non-PGM catalysts used in MEAs can support high current densities for extended periods of operation. This invention will be of interest to energy storage and conversion industries: fuel cells, flow batteries, and other electrochemical applications.

  • Uses low cost, nonplatinum group metals
  • Tunable catalyst structures for improved selectivity
  • Sustained high currents
  • Homogeneous systems’ lower susceptibility to degradation
  • Solution easily replaced
Applications and Industries
  • Fuel cells
  • Flow batteries
  • Supercapacitors
  • Other electrochemical devices for electrosynthesis, electroseparations for chemical synthesis, purification and sensors
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Shanshan Li<>