Michigan Tech

Center Objective

The Center for Fundamental and Applied Research in Nanostructured and Lightweight Materials promotes fundamental and applied research in the development and testing of lightweight and nanostructured materials to be used in fuel cell applications and for chemical synthesis. The advent of new classes of materials engineering at the nanometer level can produce new classes of materials that are lightweight and have unique physical and chemical properties. The grant will be used to obtain and improve the equipment infrastructure to support this research, and will also serve to fund seven research projects. Four projects are to be continued from the previous grant, and one new project initiated. These include:

  1. Development of lightweight, thermally conductive bipolar plates for improved thermal management in fuel cells;
  2. Exploration of pseudomorphic nanoscale overlayer bimetallic catalysts for fuel cells;
  3. Development of hybrid inorganic/organic polymer nanocomposites with improved ionic and electronic properties;
  4. Development of oriented polymeric materials for membrane applications;
  5. Preparation of a graphitic carbon foam current collectors;
  6. The development of lightweight carbon electrodes using graphitic carbon foams for battery and fuel cell applications;
  7. Movement of water in fuel cell electrodes.

In 2003, a National Academy of Sciences report identified that many of the major stumbling blocks to the advent of practical fuel cells for application to transportation were associated with the lack of appropriate materials for the fuel cell construction. Specifically, they rely too heavily on precious metals, including platinum, to be affordable. The polymer electrolyte membrane, a key part of a fuel cell, needed to function better at high temperatures and better dissipate the main byproduct: water. Finally, virtually everything in the fuel cell needed to be lighter. The core projects for this DOE sponsored Center at Michigan tech have focused on several of the materials problems identified by the NAS. These include: new electrode materials, enhanced PEM materials, lighter and more effective bipolar plates, and improvement of the carbon used as a current carrier.


1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295
(906) 487-2748
FAX: (906) 487-3213
Email cnlm@mtu.edu