Membrane improves DMFC performance

Membrane improves DMFC performance

NEWS Thurston – the LOTT Wastewater Alliance serves 78 000 people, helps preserve and protect public health, the environment, and water resources by p...

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NEWS Thurston – the LOTT Wastewater Alliance serves 78 000 people, helps preserve and protect public health, the environment, and water resources by providing wastewater management services for the urban area of north Thurston County, Washington. In other news, USFilter is offering a pre-engineered membrane wastewater treatment system based on the MemJet MBR. It is designed to treat up to 380 000 litres (100 000 gallons) of water per day. The factory-assembled FastPac plant is fully automated and, says the company, meets most stringent environmental requirements, while reducing labour and installation costs. The system, which has a small footprint, also provides efficient influent pre-screening and mixed liquor re-screening to reduce membrane maintenance and enhance performance and service life. It can be used for residential and commercial development projects, remote installations, emergency response wastewater treatment applications, military bases and for rapid infrastructure deployment. Contacts: Shirley Reynolds, USFilter Jet Tech Products, 1051 Blake, Edwardsville, KS 66111, USA. Tel: +1 913 422 7600, Fax: +1 913 422 7667, Email: [email protected] Karole Colangelo, USFilter, 1501 E. Woodfield Road, Suite 200 West, Schaumburg, IL 60173, USA. Tel: +1 847 706 6947, Fax: +1 847 706 6933, Email: [email protected]

Australian gas producer uses Medal membranes An Air Liquide Medal membrane system has been commissioned in Australia at natural gas producer Santos Group. The new system allows Santos’ Ballera Gas Plant, located West of Brisbane, Queensland, to process 130 000 m3/h of natural gas, reducing carbon dioxide levels from 18% to 3%. Natural gas from surrounding fields is transported to the processing plant, designed and constructed by the engineering group Aker-

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Kvaerner for the recovery of heavy hydrocarbons present in the gas and for carbon dioxide removal. The membrane technology is based on a proprietary polyimide hollow fibre that is used worldwide to process in total more than 600 000 m3/h of natural gas, claims Air Liquide. The Ballera site provides natural gas to Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide where it is used to generate electrical power. Contact: Air Liquide, 75 Quai d’Orsay, 75321 Paris Cedex 07, France. Tel: +33 1 4062 5555, Fax: +33 1 4062 5780.

Membrane improves DMFC performance Gas Technology Institute (GTI) of Des Plaines, Illinois, USA, has developed a new membrane which, it claims, has substantially improved the system performance of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). “We have already achieved exceptional results with this new membrane using hydrogen as a fuel source, and now we are achieving outstanding performance with methanol,” says Bill Liss, GTI’s director of Advanced Energy Systems. Independent testing by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) workers has verified that GTI’s non-fluorinated membrane outperformed the standard Nafion 117 membrane during multiple DMFC tests. ARL tested the GTI and Nafion membranes for electrical conductivity using a standard four-point conductivity test. The results indicated that the GTI membrane produced approximately 10 times greater electrical conductivity than Nafion. Improved conductivity means that the DMFC power systems that use the GTI membrane will have lower current resistance losses (commonly referred to as IR losses), higher cell voltages and greater power for a given cell volume. Contact: Gas Technology Institute, 1700 S. Mount Prospect Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018, USA. Tel: +1 847 768 0500, Fax: +1 847 768 0501.

Whatman filter meets EPA and DEP protocols Separations technology company Whatman Inc of Clifton, New Jersey, USA, has launched its Polycap GW capsule for sample collection. Whatman says that it is designed to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local department for Environmental Protection Agency (DEP) protocols for samples when analyzing dissolved or suspended metals in groundwater. Housed in polypropylene material, the Polycap GW capsule has been tested using the EPA Test Method 3005 protocols and it has low metal extractables. The capsule has a large filter surface area that is optimized to provide an effective filtration area of 600 cm2. This ensures that samples are rapidly collected, says Whatman. In addition, it features thermal sealing, tapered end-fittings as part of an encapsulated unit. This means that it is not necessary to disassemble the filter unit to replace the membrane or to follow decontaminating procedures. The capsules are available in pore sizes of 0.45 µm, 1.0 µm and 5.0 µm for a variety of water conditions. Contacts: Whatman Inc, 9 Bridewell Place, Clifton, NJ 07014, USA. Tel: +1 973 773 5800, Fax: +1 973 472 6949, Email: [email protected] Whatman plc, Whatman House, St Leonard’s Road, 20/20 Maidstone, Kent ME16 0LS, UK. Tel: +44 1622 676670, Fax: +44 1622 677011.

Study investigates palladium membranes Research that is being conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts, USA, is looking at ways of producing hydrogen as a source of energy. One of the challenges to creating an infrastructure for an economy

that relies heavily on fuel cells is refining a pure source of hydrogen to power vehicles. Yi Hua Ma, a chemical engineering professor at WPI, believes the best way to do this is by using membranes made from the precious metal palladium. With more than US$1.5 million in grant funding from Shell International Exploration & Production Inc, Ma is engaged in a three-year research study in this area to prove his assertion. According to Ma, palladium is an excellent membrane for separating hydrogen from gaseous mixtures (the hydrogen is then used as a fuel to power fuel cells). However, palladium costs hundreds of dollars an ounce. The technical challenge for Ma’s six-person, interdisciplinary research team is to keep the mass of palladium to a minimum while retaining the performance and properties of the metal. To do this, Ma’s study is concentrating on modifying ultra-thin palladium and palladium alloy films to substantially increase the flow of hydrogen, thereby reducing the palladium cost. The research programme is currently in its second phase, and is based on WPI-patented technology developed at WPI’s Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies. “This is one of the largest single industrial grants in this line of research, and one of the largest palladium membrane research groups in the world,” noted William Durgin, associate provost and vice president for research at WPI. “It complements work that is being done in WPI’s Fuel Cell Center, which together with the palladium membrane research could have a direct and dramatic impact on the direction of society in decades to come.” Potential applications for Ma’s research study include refining hydrogen for use in vehicles that are powered by fuel cells. This involves either producing hydrogen on site at individual service stations or in the vehicles themselves. Other areas include reformulating gasoline; refining crude oil; and industrial uses requiring large quantities of hydrogen, such as the Space Shuttle, which is powered by liquid hydrogen. Contact: Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Goddard Hall 121, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280, USA. Tel: +1 508 831 5000, Email: [email protected]

Membrane Technology November 2003