Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pajarito Powder complete one of the first New Mexico-funded fuel cell projects

Initiative provides support to New Mexico business

October 11, 2021

Pajarito Powder
Credit: Pajarito Powder

Through the TRGR Initiative, New Mexico businesses such as Pajarito Powder work with scientists and engineers at Los Alamos to accelerate their technologies. Photo Credit: Pajarito Powder.

Just in time for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day today, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pajarito Powder have completed a project that will help improve hydrogen fuel cells. The project was part of New Mexico’s TRGR Readiness Initiative.

“Through the TRGR Readiness Initiative, we have been able to support Pajarito Powder by performing a suite of tests that improve the understanding of how their catalysts perform, and how they can further advance their product development,” said Rod Borup, Los Alamos’ Fuel Cell Program manager and principal investigator on the Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck initiative.

The TRGR Initiative addresses the gap of knowledge transfer and technology advancement when a New Mexico business licenses a laboratory technology or engages in a research partnership. Companies, such as Pajarito Powder, gain the opportunity to work directly with scientists and engineers at Los Alamos to accelerate their technologies past the invention stage into products. For this project, the Laboratory evaluated fuel cell catalysts designed by Pajarito Powder to better understand the drawbacks of current catalyst technology.

A fuel cell uses the chemical energy of hydrogen to produce electricity. In a hydrogen fuel cell, a catalyst at the anode separates hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons, which take different paths to the cathode. The electrons go through an external circuit, creating a flow of electricity.

Through the Laboratory’s analysis, fuel cell durability of Pajarito Powder’s electrode catalyst showed minimal loss in performance after tests designed to mimic degradation over a life time of heavy duty transportation applications. The tests also helped identify how catalyst degradation happens, which will aid Pajarito Powder in the development of a new generation of fuel cell catalysts to surpass current performance required by applications and customers worldwide.

“Fuel cells offer a cleaner way to produce electricity, and could one day be used to power transportation vehicles,” said Barr Halevi, co-founder of Pajarito Powder. “Ultimately, this technology could help significantly reduce CO2 emissions worldwide.”

Read more about Pajarito Powder here, and learn more about hydrogen fuel cells here.

About Hydrogen Fuel Cell Day

Scientists and engineers across the country celebrate Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day on October 8, aptly chosen for the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008). Hydrogen and fuel cells can be used in multiple sectors for transportation, stationary power, and industrial applications enabling energy security, resiliency, and a strong domestic economy in emerging technologies.