The focus of Ryan O’Hayre and Neal Sullivan’s ARPA-E grant was protonic ceramic fuel cells (PCFCs) for DG applications that could increase the stability of the grid, provide significant cost savings, and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared with centralized power plants while avoiding transmission losses throughout the grid.

Fuel cells use the chemical energy in fuels to produce clean, safe, and efficient electricity. Fuel cells can also be used to provide distributed power generation (DG), which refers to electricity generation located at or near the site where it will be used. Efficient, fuel-flexible, cost-competitive DG systems provide reliable stationary combined heat and power (CHP) for a variety of applications, including commercial buildings and data centers. There is a critical need to develop fuel cell technologies that can enable DG at low cost and with high efficiency. These technologies have been limited by high costs and more established alternative energy sources.

The projects funded within ARPA-E’s Reliable Electricity Based on Electrochemical Systems (REBELS) program are meant to produce fuel cell devices that will be cost-efficient and create new functionality for grid stability and integration of renewables such as wind and solar.

Read the full article on the ARPA-E website here.

Diagram of fuel cell