PRIN 2022 / Di Noto


Acronimo: ALEF
Titolo: Alkaline membrane–electrode assemblies for fuel cells
Coordinatore: prof. Vito DI NOTO - Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale-Università degli Studi di PADOVA
Partner-Unità di ricerca: Università degli Studi di ROMA “Tor Vergata”, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Bando: PRIN 2022 - Decreto Direttoriale n. 104 del 02-02-2022
Durata: 16/10/2023 - 15/10/2025 (24 mesi)
Budget totale progetto: € 296.060,00

Abstract del progetto

ALEF is intended to contribute to the solution of a global challenge for our society, namely the transition to a “green” economy according to the principles of sustainable development as identified by Italian and European future strategic plans (e.g., European Green Deal, Horizon Europe, PNRR, PNR 2021-2027, PNIR) and coherently with the national and regional Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specializations. A crucial aspect to achieve this goal is to improve the exploitability of intermittent renewable sources (e.g., the sun and the wind) in the framework of the “hydrogen economy”. Specifically, ALEF is intended to improve one of the cornerstones of the hydrogen economy, i.e., the “fuel cell” (FC) that converts very efficiently the chemical energy stored in hydrogen into electrical energy.

ALEF aims at developing FCs: (i) able to overcome the drawbacks of today’s devices; and (ii) exhibiting a performance and durability level complying with practical applications. The FCs of ALEF will comprise anion-exchange membranes (AEMs) able to transport OH- species. The resulting alkaline environment will allow for the implementation of inexpensive, high-performing and durable electrode configurations comprising a much lower loading of platinum group metals (PGMs) than the state of the art. To achieve its goals, ALEF will cover the value chain of anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) from the synthesis of functional materials (i.e., electrocatalysts, ECs, and AEMs) to the fabrication and testing of prototypes.

Particular effort will be devoted to the characterization of the functional materials, to elucidate the interplay between: (i) the physicochemical properties (e.g., chemical composition, morphology, structure); and (ii) the electrochemical performance and transport features (e.g., kinetics and reaction mechanism of the electrode processes, ion conductivity). This information will guide the synthesis of improved functional materials and their implementation in membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs). As a final step, the MEAs will be tested in single AEMFCs for performance and durability. One of the cornerstones of ALEF’s activities will be the training of young researchers.

The objectives of ALEF comply seamlessly with the overarching Mission Areas of the current EU framework research program “Horizon Europe”, and in particular with: (i) Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation; and (ii) Climate-neutral and smart cities. ALEF Consortium is built upon the long-standing collaboration of three Research Units (RUs) comprising two universities (the University of Padova, UNIPD, Lead RU, and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, UNITOV) and the CNR Institute for Advanced Energy Technologies “Nicola Giordano”, ITAE. The overall human effort of ALEF is 62 Person/months, 45 delivered by young researchers. The overall project cost is 370019 Euros, 250000 of which requested to Italian MUR.