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Mg-Air Fuel Cell

#A-1993


Development of Magnesium-Air Fuel Cell and its Components

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-EPP/Electric Power Production/Non-Nuclear Energy

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
13.12.2011

Leading Institute
Engineering Academy of Armenia, Armenia, Yerevan

Supporting institutes

  • EcoAtom, LLC, Armenia, Yerevan

Collaborators

  • CROSSTECH, Switzerland, Geneva\nGEO Diagnostic, Belgium, Marcq\nGRUPO HAY TUN S.L., Spain, Madrid\nUniversity of Montreal, Canada, QC, Montreal\nSouth Dakota School of Mines and Technology, USA, SD, Rapid City\nINFINITY CHEMICAL ENGINEERING LLC, USA, CA, Glendale

Project summary

Demand for new powerful electric power sources together with alternative energy sources again came to the spotlight along with the exacerbation of global warming, environmental pollution and oil price hike. Much attention is paid to electrochemical power sources (supercapacitors, fuel cells, primary and secondary batteries) as portable and safe power sources. Now the hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells are considered as most prospective electrochemical power sources [1,2] and many companies and research institutes are working on development and improvement of these cells. However, hydrogen fuel cells have some disadvantages that suppress their wide introduction in practice. There are still expensive due to high cost of materials used in PEM fuel cells (platinum, Nafion membrane [3]), besides hydrogen is expensive and dangerous gas which needs heavy cylinders for storage. These fuel cells require complex auxiliary system for control gas flow, humidifiers, safety system, etc. They have restricted temperature interval of operation (20-80 0C). As an alternative to hydrogen fuel cells are considered the metal-air fuel cells where the metallic fuel (Zn, Al, Mg, Fe, Cd) replace hydrogen [4].
Electrochemical energy conversion based on metal-air systems is of great practical importance since oxygen in the air is used directly and there is no need to store or transport active material for the battery cathode. The use of metal-air fuel cells is well established in practice in the form of wet zinc-air primary cells which have been employed for several decades for portable devices [5]. However zinc metal has some disadvantages such as environmentally pollution caused by the toxic zinc and mercury (ingressed in zinc anode), relative fast depletion of world resources of zinc, low specific energy characteristics. The best long-term alternative to zinc as the anode in metal-air cells is magnesium for the following reasons:
(a) Resources: magnesium is available in unlimited quantities by extraction from sea water and rock minerals [6], the technology of which is well established.
(b) Environmentally compatibility: the magnesium compounds are non-toxic and pose no pollution problems.
(c) Cost: magnesium is one of the cheapest metals; its price is about $2.5-3/kg.
(d) Electrochemical activity and lightness: the standard electrochemical potential of magnesium (-2.37 V) is more negative than that of zinc (-0.76 V) and the electrochemical equivalent of magnesium (0.45 g/A.h) is less than that of zinc (1.22 g/Ah) therefore magnesium is superior from an electrochemical point of view to zinc as an anode in metal-air fuel cells.
(e) Wide temperature interval of operation in the cell (-30 – +60 oC).
The main purpose of the project is development of prototype of mechanically rechargeable magnesium–air fuel cell (or salt water battery) and its components for use as reserve or emergency power source. The other purpose of the project is the use of solar energy for production of metallic magnesium which is the major component of magnesium anode. The implementation of these tasks will allow to create combined closed cycle process.
EAA, the Engineering Academy of Armenia as the public organization has been created in 1992 on the basis of the Armenian branch of Engineering Academy of the USSR and was a part of the International Engineering Academy (IEA) as the founder and a collective member. The goal of the EAA is the practical assistance to restoration and development of the industry and all economic potential of Republic of Armenia. Now the Academy unites more than 260 leading scientists and engineers in various technical directions, including 87 doctors and 105 candidates of sciences.
In the conditions of the limited financial assistance from the state budget, experts of Engineering Academy participate in various scientific researches, finding the finance from the international scientific and technical programs (ISTC, TEMPUS, TACIS, INTAS, etc.), and also receive inpidual grants and means allocated with industrial structures, interested in improvement of quality of competitiveness of production both on internal, and on international markets.
EAA has presented many concrete developments and proposals in cooperation with chemical, mining, power engineering, building, electronic industries. Among the works in which the Engineering Academy of Armenia participated together with Russian EA and IEA, is creation of innovative ecologically pure high-temperature technology of gasification of any grades and kinds of firm fuel in slag melt. The members of Academy are engaged also in educational activity in the State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA).
The group from EAA involved in presented proposals has experience in designing and development of projects in the field of alternative and electrochemical energy sources.
ECOATOM LLC is created in 1991. It has developed and introduced several new industrial technologies that have unique environmentally clean applications. Particularly, ECOATOM developed advanced and environmentally sound method of electrodialysis and electrolysis with especially selected components as a basis for several applications described below. The company profile is radioactive waste management and metal extraction from water solutions and ore concentrates. In 1991 – 1997 the company was designed, fabricated and put into operation the pilot plant for deactivation of liquid radioactive water in Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. Recently the company has won the tender for purification of waste water in Dilijan city. Now the company has developed a novel membrane electrolysis process which allows extracting pure reactive metals (Li, Na, Mg, Ti etc.) from their salt aqueous solutions. Besides, ECOATYOM has developed inexpensive technology for production of silicon from SiO2. Some scientists of ECOATOM LLC have many years experience in hydrogen-air and zinc-air fuel cells R&D.
Over the last decade ECOATOM LLC produced several important theoretical and modeling tools and developed new industrial technologies that uniquely have environmentally safe applications. These are in the fields of renewable energy sources and highly efficient production of energy, in hydrometallurgy, and in the processing of nuclear wastes and the recycling of industrial wastes. Recently, the specialists of the company have elaborated novel low-temperature method of magnesium extraction from water salt solutions which is much inexpensive then common methods which need high temperature melt electrolysis or carbothermic reduction of magnesium oxide. Our method does not need high temperature and magnesium is produced from salt solutions therefore energy consumption of the process is much less. This provides low prime cost of the magnesium which is approximately three times lower then the cost of magnesium obtained by carbothermic or melt electrolysis methods.
References
1. G. Karamyan, A. Danielyan, R. Mnatsakanyan, Fuel cells: past, present and future, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and Ecology, № 10 (30), с. 60-63, 2005 г.
2. G. Karamyan, V. Odabashian, Development of fuel cells in Armenia, Proc. Fuel Cell Seminar, Miami Beach, Florida, November, 2003.
3 G. Karamyan, A. Danielyan, A. Sargsyan, R. Mnatsakanyan, Improving protonic conductivity of membranes for polymer electrolyte fuel cells, Russian Journal of Electrochemistry, 2006, vol. 42, No.4, pp.405-407.
4. L. Jorissen, Bifunctional oxygen/air electrodes, Journal Power Sources, 2006, Vol. 155, pp.23-32.
5. G.G. Karamyan, R.K. Kostanyan, Development of oxygen (air) electrode for zinc-air electrochemical power sources. Proceedings of State Engineering University of Armenia, No. 76, 2009, pp. 841-844, (in Armenian).
6. H. Hovannesyan, G. Karamyan, S. Abovyan. Waste-free hydrometallurgical extraction of magnesium and other metals from rock formation of varying olivine content, International Application WO 2005/098062.


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