Scientists at the Institute of Solid State Chemistry and Mechanochemistry of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences are developing fuel cells for a generator that allow charging portable devices anywhere on Earth.
The development was supported by the representative office of the Innovation Promotion Fund in the Academpark within the framework of the UMNIK program, the industrial partner was the TOPAZ Research Center.
The created generator has the power required to charge portable equipment and individual electric vehicles and will generate energy from hydrocarbon fuel in any climatic conditions.
The compact device will provide access to electricity in remote areas without a central power supply. The device can be taken on expeditions and campings to charge photo and video cameras, electric cars, as well as power medical equipment in the field.
The generator is filled with highly efficient microtubular solid oxide fuel cells (MT SOFC). Unlike other types of fuel cells, MT SOFCs are characterized by fast start-up and availability of the fuel used.
“Today, lithium-ion batteries are the primary power source used for gadgets and vehicles such as electric scooters. However, the energy reserve of such a battery is limited: it needs frequent access to the mains and regular, sufficiently long charging.
The energy reserve of the generator on microtubes is determined only by the amount of gas - methane or propane-butane mixture, which can be purchased in cylinders at gas stations and in tourist stores, and its charging will take as long as it takes to replace the cartridge,” said the candidate of chemical sciences Mikhail Popov, senior researcher at the Institute of Chemical Technology SB RAS, recipient of the UMNIK grant.
Within the framework of the grant under the UMNIK program of the Fund for the Promotion of Innovations, scientists received a working prototype of the MT SOFC, which allowed to attract the attention of investors.
The team entered into cooperation with Research Center TOPAZ LLC, which specializes in electrochemical technologies and industrial solutions based on them. TOPAZ took upon itself the manufacture and production of standardized samples of MT SOFCs in large quantities, as well as the solution of complex technological and engineering problems when creating a commercial generator out of them. The first prototype of such a generator was demonstrated in 2019 to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin as part of the exhibition of NTI projects.
“Our institute is the only one in the country that deals with micropipes. In cooperation with R&D Center TOPAZ engineers, we have developed an automated installation on which we manufacture tubes with an adjustable microstructure. Depending on the number of tubes used, it is possible to create compact generators of various capacities,” added Mikhail Popov.
In the future, the collaboration of the research team with the industrial partner R&D Center TOPAZ will allow to launch mass production and bring innovative generators to the market, and thereby create a new niche for low-power electrochemical power supplies.