- Ecolectro, Inc. receives a National Science Foundation award of $225,000 to develop next generation alkaline exchange polymers for hydrogen electrolyzers, fuel cells and other electrochemical technologies.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Founded in June 2015, Ecolectro, Inc. has a mission to make renewable energy technologies competitive with fossil-fuel based alternatives. Ecolectro, develops and manufactures alkaline exchange polymers which are components of various clean energy technologies. These polymers make the production of clean energy more efficient and less expensive than currently-used polymers.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has awarded Ecolectro Phase I funding to produce polymer composites that enable widespread commercialization of alkaline membrane electrochemical devices, such fuel cells and electrolyzers. The NSF SBIR program provides funding for some of the best early-stage innovation ideas.
“Currently, widespread adoption of clean energy technology such as fuel cells is prevented by the high system costs, which are driven by the platinum catalysts. Operating under alkaline conditions with alkaline exchange membranes is necessary to relieve this pain point by allowing the use of non-precious metal catalysts such as stainless steel, nickel, cobalt, and their alloys,” says Dr. Gabriel G. Rodríguez-Calero, Ecolectro’s Chief Executive Officer.
“This SBIR Phase I project will enable our polymer electrolyte composites to meet the stringent performance criteria for a commercially viable alkaline exchange membranes (AEM), including durability, hydroxide conductivity and mechanical strength under alkaline operating conditions,” says Dr. Kristina M. Hugar, Ecolectro’s Chief Scientific Officer. Ecolectro will produce ultrathin polymer electrolyte composites with exceptional conductivity, mechanical strength and chemical durability.
Ecolectro was founded to commercialize technology originally developed at Prof. Geoffrey W. Coates research laboratory at Cornell University. The technology has the potential to reduce cost of the raw materials used to build hydrogen electrolyzer and fuel cell systems by 40%. “With the NSF’s support, Ecolectro will be able to continue the development of these new materials into products that our customers have asked us for. Already we have seen a need for these new technologies as evidenced by demand from several cutting-edge companies that have asked us for materials. This prestigious award will accelerate the rate of innovation and adoption of our products,” says Dr. Gabriel G. Rodríguez-Calero, Ecolectro’s Chief Executive Officer.
The award will put Ecolectro at the leading edge of AEM materials design for the hydrogen electrolyzer and fuel cell fields.