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Applying tools from biology to fuel cell technology

Research Achievements

Applying tools from biology to fuel cell technology

Chemical engineering student, Adam Baughman, has applied tools from biology (part of his interdisciplinary research) to fuel cell technology. First, he has been able to use an optimization-based technique for estimation of undetermined parameters in dynamic systems models (a technique originally developed for metabolic models) to characterize the performance of a wide array of catalysts used in the preferential oxidative clean-up of hydrogen streams destined for use in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Second, he has been able to investigate new engineering targets for microbial fuel cells using a metabolic network modeling technique he has developed. Using this technique, he has identified ways in which organisms could be engineered for application in microbial fuel cells such that the devices could be operated aerobically with no theoretical loss of efficiency. Moreover, aerobic operation increases the diversity of microbes and substrates possible for use in these devices.