Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
PNNL News Central

NASA and DOE lab team on fuel cell research

News Release

December 10, 2003 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and NASA's Glenn Research Center have agreed to collaborate in solving one of the toughest technical challenges to the development of advanced solid oxide fuel cells. The two research organizations have signed a Space Act Agreement to team in the development of sealing technologies for the stacks of solid oxide fuel cells.

Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks consist of a group of thin ceramic cells separated by gas seals between which electricity is generated through a combustion-free electrochemical process. PNNL Fuel Cell Development Director Prabhakar Singh explained, "The gas separation seals used between the individual cells prevent fuels and oxidants from intermixing. Robust seal materials and engineered architectures are essential to ensure the long term stable operation of SOFCs."

"Our objective is to develop composite materials and designs that will improve the strength and fracture toughness of composite glass and glass-ceramic-based seals," said Ajay Misra, chief of NASA Glenn's Ceramics Branch. "The seals must stand up to the extremes of pressure, temperature and other environmental conditions that occur during extended operation."

"The arrangement complements PNNL's work in glass seals and NASA's expertise in glass and glass-ceramic composites," Singh said. "While each organization will continue to maintain its own research program, participants will jointly identify, prioritize, develop and test new fuel cell seal technologies."

PNNL provides technical leadership for the DOE's Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance, a collaborative effort by industry, academia and other research organizations to develop and commercialize an SOFC power generation system within the next 10 years. The system is intended to be modular and capable of using a variety of liquid and gaseous fuels.

NASA is investigating solid oxide fuel cell technology to meet the need for high-efficiency, low emission power capabilities for aviation and space applications.

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the Glenn Research Center leads NASA research and development in aeropropulsion. The center also plays a significant role in NASA's promotion of economic growth and national security through safe, superior and environmentally compatible U.S. civil and military aircraft propulsion systems NASA Glenn Research Center.

Tags: Energy, National Security, Fuel Cells

PNNL LogoPacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on signature capabilities in chemistry, earth sciences, and data analytics to advance scientific discovery and create solutions to the nation's toughest challenges in energy resiliency and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

News Center


Additional Resources