Delaware Patent of the Month – March 2024

The quest for more efficient and cost-effective proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells has led to many innovations in materials science, particularly in the development of novel copolymers and ionomers. Among the pioneers in this field is Compact Membrane Systems, Inc., whose latest invention aims to revolutionize PEM fuel cell technology.

Traditional PEM fuel cells have faced challenges related to the costly platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts used in the electrodes, particularly the cathode. Compact Membrane Systems’ recently patented solution is designed as a novel copolymer comprising fluorinated and cyclic structures within the backbone, along with a second repeat unit derived from trifluorovinyl methylene ether monomers.

What sets this invention apart is its unique combination of high reactivity and free-radical copolymerization, resulting in copolymer yields exceeding 85%. The incorporation of trifluorovinyl methylene ether monomers allows for the creation of a bulky and cyclic repeat unit structure, imparting higher gas permeability compared to conventional linear backbone structures. Moreover, the functional groups within the copolymer can be modified to enhance performance in various applications.

In PEM fuel cell applications, these novel copolymers and ionomers offer unparalleled conductivity and oxygen permeability, paving the way for higher catalyst utilization and improved efficiency. By maximizing proton conduction from the membrane separator to the catalyst, these materials optimize the oxygen reduction reaction, ultimately leading to enhanced power generation and lower overall emissions.

Beyond fuel cells, the applications of these copolymers and ionomers are vast. They can be utilized in membranes for the separation of gaseous mixtures, offering solutions for industries seeking efficient gas purification processes.

Compact Membrane Systems’ invention represents a paradigm shift in PEM fuel cell technology and materials science. With its potential to drive down costs, improve efficiency, and expand the scope of applications, this innovation marks a significant milestone in the journey towards a more sustainable and energy-efficient future.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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