Ballard Material Products has received the bulk of $6.2 million in Department of Energy funding for research work into fuel cell materials aimed at cutting the cost and improving durability of the electro-chemical energy generators. Ballard Material Products is the U.S.-based subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems. Ballard will be looking at the causes of material degradation in fuel cells and ways to reduce or eliminate it.
While a fuel cell stack itself has no moving parts (aside from the pumps and compressors feeding and scavenging it) the coatings on the plates do get damaged during use by reactions with impurities in the hydrogen. Water collecting and freezing within the stack can also cause damage. Computer modeling of the gas and water flows may lead to new designs that help to improve the efficiency and durability of stacks. Ballard's work will be targeted at non-automotive applications such as stationary power generation and material handling systems.