GreenCentre Canada funds UOIT research into 'greener' fuel cell material

For immediate release

Oct. 26, 2010

GreenCentre Canada funds UOIT research into ‘greener’ fuel cell material

KINGSTON/OSHAWA, ON – A researcher’s discovery of an inexpensive new material for potential use in hydrogen fuel cells at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has been awarded $18,000 in additional development funding by GreenCentre Canada.

The material, discovered by Dr. Brad Easton, Assistant Professor of Chemistry in UOIT’s Faculty of Science, shows promise as a more cost-effective, greener alternative to the materials currently used in a fuel cell’s Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). This membrane is a crucial component in the fuel cell’s power system.

As a potential power source for electric motors, fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. Fuel cells are seen as a cleaner alternative to the internal combustion engine.

Dr. Easton’s technology has the advantage over existing membrane materials of being inexpensive to produce and of being able to function at a temperature range of 120 to 150 degrees Celsius, the U.S. Department of Energy’s target benchmark for the next generation of fuel cells. Current membrane materials are extremely costly to manufacture and only operate efficiently at temperatures under 80 degrees Celsius.

“GreenCentre’s Proof of Principle funding is valuable to us at this stage of our work,” says Dr. Easton. “It gives us the opportunity to explore a variety of chemical modifications for improving the mechanical strength and flexibility of these membranes.”

“Working with GreenCentre is a great way to bring technologies developed by talented academics like Dr. Easton closer to market, and closer to making an impact on people’s lives,” says Dr. Ann Dulhanty, Manager, Technology Transfer and Commercialization at UOIT.

“Membrane properties and their production cost are critical barriers to widespread adoption of fuel cell technology,” says Dr. Michael Szarka, Commercial Development Director at GreenCentre Canada. “The superior characteristics suggested by Dr. Easton’s work make his technology potentially very interesting to the fuel cell and automotive sectors.”

“This funding is an example of how GreenCentre is addressing Canada’s ‘innovation gap’ effectively and substantively,” says Dr. Rui Resendes, Executive Director. “GreenCentre is unique for the way in which it directs the people, infrastructure and resources towards finding and building value in promising Canadian research discoveries.”

To date, GreenCentre has awarded more than $180,000 in Proof of Principle funding to seven researchers at six universities across Canada. Funded projects include energy-efficient compounds for removing C02 from industrial gas emissions, the development of organic superconducting polymers and a green method for removing harmful metals from industrial wastewater.

GreenCentre expects to award up to 25 funding grants annually in support of technologies that have strong commercialization potential but require further basic research or testing before they can be reassessed for market value.

Contact:

Mary Anne Beaudette
Director, Communications
GreenCentre Canada
P: 613-533-6000 ext. 78238
E: Maryanne.beaudette@greencentrecanada.com

About GreenCentre Canada:

GreenCentre Canada is a national Centre of Excellence for commercializing early-stage Green Chemistry discoveries generated by academic researchers and industry. Funded by the governments of Ontario and Canada, and industry, GreenCentre Canada is dedicated to developing environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemical and manufacturing products and practices. It is governed and operated with the assistance of industry members from across the chemical value chain. The centre is located at the Innovation Park at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

About UOIT:

As an innovative university, UOIT delivers a leading-edge learning environment that uniquely combines academic knowledge, research opportunities, hands-on skills and a vibrant student life. UOIT's more than 7,400 undergraduate and graduate students are taught by professors who are experts in their fields from around the world. As Ontario's first laptop-based university, the university offers a diverse array of challenging undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its faculties of Business and Information Technology; Education; Energy Systems and Nuclear Science; Engineering and Applied Science; Health Sciences; Science; and Social Science and Humanities. UOIT's commitment to research excellence has resulted in millions of dollars in grants and awards, including six Canada Research Chairs. To find out more, visit www.uoit.ca or call 905.721.8668.

Contact:

Bryan Oliver
UOIT Communications and Marketing
P: 905-721-8668 ext. 2209
C: 289-928-3653
E: bryan.oliver@uoit.ca

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