Fuels of the future
Photo by Kathy Atkinson | Photo illustration by Joy Smoker October 30, 2017
Under its new moniker, UD’s Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries will be a hub of energy innovation
Alternative fuels will power our future—and that future is coming fast. Earlier this month, General Motors announced that it plans to launch at least 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023.
At the University of Delaware, the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries, formerly known as the Center for Fuel Cell Research, is a hub for innovation in sustainable fuel.
Bingqing Wei, professor of mechanical engineering, is the new director of the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries. An expert in electrochemical batteries and capacitors, he will lead the center as it explores a wider range of technologies for clean, efficient energy.
“The center was previously focused mostly on fundamentals of fuel cell technology,” he said. “In the past eight years, there has been increased focus on batteries as well.”
Fuel cells produce power through electrochemical reactions, which are spurred by catalysts. In batteries, stored chemical energy is converted to electricity.
The Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries brings together a range of experts with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, civil and environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.
“Our center serves as a platform to focus on fundamentals and apply them to make new technologies,” said Wei.
Researchers from the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries recently produced tungsten carbide nanoparticles for cheaper, more durable fuel cells—a development they described in a paper published in Nature Communications.
Researchers with the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries are also driving innovation in areas such as supercapacitors, stretchable electronics, novel fuel cell membranes and fuel cell system modeling and simulation.
“We are the leader in developing new concepts,” said Wei.
The Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries will also welcome a new faculty member when Koffi Pierre Yao joins the mechanical engineering department as an assistant professor next fall. Yao’s research focuses on the design, fabrication, and characterization of energy materials for energy storage including lithium-oxygen and lithium-ion batteries. An alumnus of UD, Yao received his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is completing postdoctoral work at Argonne National Laboratory.