The direct ethanol fuel cell (DEFC) shows high potential for portable applications as alternative power source.
Performance (activity), durability (stability) and costs of the DEFC catalyst and membrane are the challenges
that need to be addressed in order to enhance the development of this emerging technology. This project
investigates the application of new membranes and electrode concepts (MEAs) that rely on environmentally
friendly polysaccharide based polymers in combination with graphene oxide.
The key objectives are:
- Development of new anode catalyst systems based on non-noble containing metals (i.e. by using edge and
basal planes functionalized graphene based materials as substrates) with high activity and long-term stability
using of various selected synthesis methods (i.e. impregnation-, instant-, polyol-, nanocapsule-, core-shell- or
bromide anion exchange method) to achieve a controlled homogeneous deposition of catalyst nanoparticles on
- Development and optimization of cost effective synthesis procedure for nitrogen functionalized graphene oxide
(GO-N) by ammonia and nitrogen plasma.
- Development of new anion-exchange membrane composite materials with enhanced efficiency and durability at
reduced cost (i.e. by using sustainable polysaccharide-based polymers and functionalized graphene oxide) by
using simple papermaking and coating procedures.
The bilateral Austrian-Slovenian project consortium reaches the critical mass of interdisciplinary knowledge,
which is necessary to achieve the objectives of the proposed highly innovative project. Each member of the
consortium has been selected for the outstanding expertise and in the complementary compatibility of their
skills. Prof. Viktor Hacker from the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology of TU Graz,
leads the consortium with substantial know-how and experience in the field of chemical reaction engineering with
a focus on heterogeneous catalytic reactions and electrochemical engineering in the field of fuel cells. The
Slovenian partners are led and coordinated by Prof. Karin Stana-Kleinschek from the Institute of Materials
Engineering and Design of the University of Maribor and Prof. Bostjan Genorio from the Faculty of Chemistry and
Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana. Prof. Karin Stana-Kleinschek’s team is a world known for
their polysaccharide-based polymer engineering research including surface modification and characterization on
the nano level. Prof. Bostjan Genorio’s team with international experience in the graphene and proton exchange
membrane fuel cell is the third indispensable piece of the overall puzzle.
The project is planned at the edge of advanced materials research and is foreseen to contribute to breakthrough
advances in fuel cell material development and characterization. The expected results will contribute to high level
scientific publications, patents and technological advancements for the society. The described close cooperation,
the utilization of the partners’ latest discoveries and their knowhow will result in new material
development, innovative production methods and finally the design and implementation of completely new,
environmentally friendly and high performance alkaline DEFC.