delware environmental institute

Yan group sets performance targets for alternative fuel cell technology

The pathway to zero-emission vehicles has taken two forks, one toward battery electric cars like the Tesla and the other toward fuel-cell-powered automobiles like the Toyota Mirai. The University of Delaware’s Yushan Yan believes that fuel cell vehicles are the way to go, because they best preserve the advantages of gasoline automobiles: low upfront cost, long driving range and fast refueling. But he also believes that a new fuel cell technology may be necessary.

For Yan, that approach is a new twist on traditional fuel cells, known as proton exchange membrane fuel cells, or PEMFCs, which rely on costly platinum-based catalysts. Yan and his research team are pursuing an alternative technology, the hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell (HEMFC), because of its inherent cost advantages.