Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Storage and Battery Manufacturing
The Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Storage and Battery Manufacturing sector represents a pivotal pillar in the quest for cleaner, more efficient energy solutions. It encompasses a range of groundbreaking technologies, including fuel cells that generate electricity through chemical reactions, advanced hydrogen storage methods, and the production of high-performance batteries for a multitude of applications.
The sector can be tracked back to the early 19th century and the discovery of the principles of electrochemistry. Significant breakthroughs began taking place in the latter half of the 20th century, with the increasing interest of alternative energy sources laying the groundwork for research and development in fuel cell technology and energy storage. Technologies have undergone rapid evolution, driven by the growing need for sustainable energy solutions in the face of climate change and resource constraints.
Even though this sector has immense potential, it also faces its share of challenges, such as issues of cost-effectiveness, energy density and infrastructure development. Additionally, sustainability and environmental impacts remain a concern. Today the Fuel Cell, Hydrogen Storage and Battery Manufacturing sector stands at a crucial juncture. Global initiatives to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources is fueling industry growth, and this sector is gaining traction in a variety of applications, from industrial processes to power generation and transportation.
Goodfellow, a trusted supplier of advanced materials provides high-quality materials and expert technical advice to help support research and development and drive innovation in this sector.
How do you find the best materials for applications in the fuel cell, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing sector?
Important considerations when finding materials for fuel cells are the chemical resistance and stability
Often composite and complex materials can be a good choice to get the desired properties
Goodfellow can help you choose and source the best materials
For many renewable energy applications, having the right materials is crucial to being able to make functional devices with the desired level of performance. For fuel cells, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing, there are a number of material performance challenges that need to be overcome, including issues around chemical corrosion, pressure and longevity.
Batteries are a key component for other renewable energy technologies as a way of managing energy demands. One of the biggest challenges with renewable energy is the intermittent nature of the energy supply and so methods of energy storage, like lithium-ion batteries, are crucial.
As well as using more direct approaches to electrical energy generation such as wind turbines and tidal power, hydrogen production in fuel cells and its subsequent storage are another possible green solution to energy production and storage.
The challenge in finding materials for hydrogen storage is that the low energy density of gas relative to other hydrocarbon mixtures means that it needs to be compressed at much higher pressures. This poses a safety and material storage challenge, particularly for hydrogen-powered vehicles where the risk of being involved in a collision is non-negligible.
What advanced materials are needed for battery manufacturing and energy applications?
For applications such as battery manufacturing and many other energy applications, high performance materials are a must. Battery manufacturing and other areas such as solar cell production often need quite specialist or unusual combinations of materials at very high qualities.
For example, lithium-ion and zinc-carbon are two of the most commonplace material combinations for battery manufacture, particularly of low-power portable devices. Worldwide lithium resources are limited however, and other materials, such as cobalt, are still required for other parts of the battery manufacturing, including making the cathodes.
What alternative materials are available for use in the fuel cell, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing sector?
There has been a push towards the incorporation of new materials into battery manufacturing that are more abundant on earth, including the development of potassium ion batteries, though it will take time for this type of battery manufacturing to reach the same stage of maturity as for lithium-ion batteries.
Improvements in recycling technologies may help prolong the popularity of some current battery materials as well as improvements in the regeneration and re-use of old batteries. If not, the pressure on existing mining of lithium in the few countries where it can be sourced and limited supply on the free market may encourage the adoption of new battery manufacturing materials and technologies.
What metals are suitable for fuel cells, hydrogen storage and battery manfacturing?
Fuel cells, much like other aspects of battery manufacturing, also require a complex combination of materials. In a standard fuel cell, there might be polymer membranes that are used in the electrolyte. These can be exposed to chemically harsh environments which can involve compounds such as doped ceria, lanthanum gallate and doped barium zirconate.
The fuel cell will also have the materials for the electrode – the quality of these is particularly critical as this is where all of the ion and electron transport must occur. As the chemical reduction and oxidation processes must take place here, the electrodes are particularly vulnerable to chemical attack and degradation.
Choosing electrode materials is particularly challenging as it is difficult to find a single material with all the desirable properties for an electrode. Therefore, it is often necessary to consider alloying and careful design of materials for very particular applications.
Advanced materials for fuel cells, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing from Goodfellow
There are many materials and many careful decisions that need to be made in battery manufacturing. There are safety considerations with even commonly used materials like lithium that need to be considered. Also, when planning for battery manufacturing, it is necessary to consider the historical price instabilities for many metals, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, which are some of the most in-demand materials.
When navigating the complex choices and considerations for material performance for battery manufacturing, it can be helpful to have a partner that is a materials expert. Goodfellow can provide reliable and timely supplies of high quality materials but also expert support in this area.
Goodfellow has worked with experts across academia, manufacturing and research to support the work in these sectors with both the physical materials and the knowledge to successfully complete their goals.
What materials does Goodfellow recommend for fuel cells, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing?
Common materials for battery manufacturing from vanadium and zinc can all be supplied by Goodfellow, as well as more specialist materials like zinc foam that is used for electrodes in NiMH battery designs. A case study on how a hybrid graphene and nickel foam has been used can be found here. The NiMH batteries are a popular choice for rechargeable batteries and can be found in both portable devices like mobile phones as well as hybrid electric vehicles.
When it comes to materials for hydrogen storage, nickel foam is another popular choice that Goodfellow can provide. The porous structure gives a large surface area that is easy to bend and process as well as being corrosion resistance to give the material an excellent working lifetime.
Contact Goodfellow today to discuss what cutting-edge, high-quality materials Goodfellow can support your battery manufacturing with. Discover how Goodfellow’s outstanding quality control can help you achieve better performance with your renewable energy devices.
What other industries are related to the fuel cell, hydrogen storage and battery manufacturing sector and its applications?
Many of the materials for fuel cells can also be used in photovoltaics and other device applications. Use in transportation is one of the most common industries and applications, but some fuel cells and materials are also used in aerospace and space technologies.