BOSTON, September 22, 2009 – Reactive Innovations, LLC received a contract from the Department of Energy to develop an on-line measurement tool for membrane and electrode assemblies used in electrolyzer stacks. Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) based water electrolyzers are being targeted by the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Program to generate hydrogen for transportation and stationary applications. Currently, the membrane and electrode assemblies (MEAs) in these electrolyzer stacks must be measured for quality assurance before being incorporated into the higher value electrolyzer stack. There are no on-line or high-volume methods that can readily perform these quality inspections and, thus, a point-to-point inspection basis is used with a concomitant lower production rate and higher manufacturing cost.
To improve upon these limitations, Reactive Innovations is developing a rapid inspection tool for non-destructively evaluating and characterizing MEAs. This inspection tool is based upon a proven method for assessing the catalytic behavior of reactive surfaces in a portable, hand-held inspection probe. In support of high volume MEA manufacturing, this inspection tool is also amenable to high-speed throughput operations that will help lower the manufacturing cost.
Beyond MEAs for electrolyzers and fuel cells, this sensing technology also has applicability for characterizing reactive surfaces used in other industries and, thus, will provide a public benefit by helping to reduce manufacturing costs. Other forms of reactive surfaces include battery electrodes, industrial catalysts, environmental markets for catalyst coated materials, and the bio-chemical industry involved with detection, destruction, or creation of compounds. In these markets, it is desired to assess the chemical activity of a reactive surface before the component is incorporated into a higher value product.