A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor has received $500,000 to develop high-performance, cost-effective transportation fuel cells.
Tansel Karabacak, a professor of physics and astronomy at UA Little Rock, received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The university will provide $100,000 in matching funds.
The goal of the research is to produce transportation fuel cells that cost less, last longer and provide more power. The three-year project, "High Performance Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Electrode Structures," will run until December 2019.
The funds are part of a $3 million-plus grant awarded to a team led by United Technologies Research Center of East Hartford, Connecticut. Last year, the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy established the Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability. The consortium awarded more than $13 million to fund four projects to improve fuel cell performance and durability.
Karabacak's team plans to develop a structure to improve polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. That type of fuel cell has the high power density, high energy conversion efficiency and low or zero carbon emission that would make it ideal for mass transit use. But the cells cannot be used that way now due to their limited power and poor durability.
Another goal of the UA Little Rock team is to reduce costs by decreasing the amount of platinum required for the cells.
The grant will also pay a postdoctoral researcher and a graduate assistant to work with the team at UA Little Rock.