Project Info

Reversible Fuel Cells for Grid Energy Storage


Project Goals and Description:

Background:  A key goal of the U.S. Department of Energy is to increase the sustainability of the U.S. electrical grid by using energy-efficient and renewable resources. However, the intermittent nature of renewable energy (such as solar and wind) makes it difficult to balance power generation with grid demand. Thus, hydrogen production and energy storage are essential pieces of enabling high penetration renewable energy portfolio across the U.S. Reversible fuel cell systems are a promising and environmentally friendly energy storage option. They generate and store hydrogen in the electrolysis mode during periods of renewable energy surplus and use the stored hydrogen to generate power in the fuel cell mode at times of energy deficiency. This multi-mode operation will augment renewable power generation by offering the lowest cost grid-balancing solution, allowing higher levels of intermittent renewable power generation without curtailment and provide a path to a more reliable grid. Of the various fuel cell types, high temperature Solid Oxide Cell technologies offer the highest round-trip efficiencies and the best opportunity for a single (unitized) electrochemical stack to operate in both fuel cell and electrolysis modes. The project is centered on developing test capabilities to support reversible fuel cell development. Project: The MURF student will be participating in the construction of a unique test rig capable of testing multiple kW-scale fuel-cell stacks reversibly at elevated pressures. Assembly of the test rig will include, but is not limited to, rig layout, harware procurement, plumbing, fabricating, wiring, and software (LabView) development. This is an opportunity for a student to build a test rig with rare capabilities from the ground-up. Upon completion of the test rig, the student may be involved in fuel-cell stack testing and data analysis. The MURF student will also be helping with the conceptualization and setup of the reversible test lab rig in the new GRLA laboratory of Dr. Braun's. The student will be expected to help develop LabView interfaces for rig control and data collection & management, and may be involved with helping develop data acquisition and diagnostic tools.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Make solar energy economical.
For more information, the interested applicant can peruse literature or visit websites as follows: Mines research website:
Project Summary from latest Quarter:
Technical Literature:    

Primary Contacts:

Dr. Robert Braun, Dr. Chris Cadigan,

Student Preparation


Mechanial or Chemical Engineering with Junior standing. A second course in thermodynamics is a plus.




The student will gain experience in working with interdisciplinary teams, including with industrial and acdemic partners.
  • Data Acquisition and measurement/sensors
  • LabView
  • Electrical  
  • Plumbing 
  • Problem Solving  and some computational related to hydrogen production and fuel cell stack operation


The MURF student will work closely with Dr. Cadigan and Ph.D. student Aadarsh Parashar to accomplish weekly goals. Monthly meetings with Prof. Braun will also provide context for work and skills development. Attendance at DOE and internal project review meetings will provide additional exposure to and professional team skills development opportunities.


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