CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA and PATRAS, GREECE – Advent Technologies, Inc. recently completed a project funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) of the Department of Energy (DoE) geared towards the use of dimethyl ether (DME) in direct liquid fuel cells. The goal of the project was to utilize the inherently high specific energy capacity of DME as well as the higher operating temperature of HT-PEMFC systems as a potential replacement for state-of-the-art low temperature methanol-based fuel cell systems (DMFC). This required the evaluation of new catalyst materials to improve upon several key performance parameters including maximum power, total platinum group metal (PGM) loading, anode specific current, crossover current, mass transport, as well as durability.
At the 2018 Annual Merit Review (AMR) meetings in Washington D.C., this work was highlighted by the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) as an outstanding accomplishment among DoE-funded fuel cell work. Due to the success of this project, Advent is currently investigating other funding opportunities to further investigate the use of DME as a high energy density liquid fuel alternative.
Dimethyl Ether (DME) can be produced from dehydration of methanol or from biomass. In the future, renewable methanol can be used to result in true net-zero emissions and highly efficient source of power when used in fuel cells. DME has a high cetane number(60), earning it the “green diesel” moniker, and is a non-toxic renewable fuel, therefore it provides a very promising alternative for the electrification of aviation. Advent is in the research and development phase of aviation systems that will use DME and Advent’s Li.F.E. fuel cells. DME has a specific energy of 7,889 Wh/kg vs. 250 Wh/kg. A value of 3000 Wh/kg is considered the absolute minimum for enabling electrification of aviation.
Dr. Emory De Castro, Chief Technology Officer, Advent underscored the advance: “Advent was competitively selected to show how our fuel cell technology enables the clean conversion of DME to electricity, and we surpassed several benchmarks in this program.” Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou, Advent Technologies CEO, stated: “We believe that Aviation, including drones and eVTOLs will be one of the most exciting and promising areas for fuel cells, especially those that can use renewable fuels like renewable methanol and DME. The energy to weight advantage will provide significantly higher autonomy (range/flight time) and utilization (time to refill vs. recharge).”
Note: The teams of Dr. Piotr Zelenay’s (Los Alamos National Laboratory) and Prof. Anastasios Angelopoulos (University of Cincinnati) collaborated with Advent on this project.