National Physical Laboratory

Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage

Fuel cells are electrochemical power sources with the advantages of high power density and high efficiency

Electrochemical devices such as fuel cells, electrolysers and batteries show great promise for large scale energy conversion and storage applications. Stored electrochemical energy has the potential to bridge the gap between electricity supply and demand that arises with intermittent renewable energy generation technologies such as solar and wind power.

Government policy is supporting research and demonstration of these technologies, which can benefit the environment by facilitating carbon neutral grid supply and transport when the primary energy is produced from renewable sources.

NPL is working closely with academia and industry to develop innovative in situ measurement techniques, advanced models and test methods to support more durable and cost-effective fuel cell, electrolyser and battery systems.

For more information, please contact Gareth Hinds

Recent highlights

  • Innovative fuel cell reference electrode that facilitates, for the first time, mapping of electrode potential across the active area of an operating fuel cell
  • Novel galvanostatic technique for simultaneous in situ measurement of electrochemical active surface area of each electrode in a fuel cell stack
  • Synchrotron imaging of lithium ion batteries during thermal runaway
  • Development of multiphysics model of PEM fuel cell performance in an accessible software platform
  • Application of digital volume correlation to mapping of electrode strain during discharge of lithium ion batteries
  • In situ thermal imaging technique for characterisation of hot spots in operating PEM fuel cells
  • Redefinition of screening test conditions for metallic bipolar plates based on in situ measurement of corrosion potential
  • Application of novel reference electrode to PEM water electrolysers, direct methanol fuel cells and redox flow cells

External collaboration

The core UK government-funded metrology research is guided by an Industrial Advisory Group (IAG), which meets twice a year to steer the direction of the work and ensure it is closely aligned with industry needs. New members are always welcome. Current members of the IAG include:

NPL also has strong links with academia, with joint PhD/EngD studentships at the following universities:

NPL actively participates in collaborative research projects (Innovate UK / Horizon 2020) and also carries out research and testing on a commercial contract basis for a range of customers.

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