Search Prime Grants


Project Grant


Grant Description
Optimizing liquid free ionomer binders for high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for heavy duty vehicles.
Place of Performance
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808-2018 United States
Geographic Scope
Single Zip Code
Related Opportunity
Analysis Notes
Amendment Since initial award the End Date has been extended from 06/27/22 to 09/30/22.
Ionomer Solutions was awarded Project Grant DESC0021877 worth $200,000 from the Office of Science in June 2021 with work to be completed primarily in Baton Rouge Louisiana United States. The grant has a duration of 1 year 3 months and was awarded through assistance program 81.049 Office of Science Financial Assistance Program.

SBIR Details

Research Type
STTR Phase I
Optimizing liquid free ionomer binders for high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for heavy duty vehicles
Ionomer solutions LLC will develop membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) that utilize high-temperature polymer electrolyte membranes (HT-PEMs) and ionomer electrode binders containing blends of poly(tetrafluorostyrene phosphonic acid) (PTFSPA) blended with perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) materials. The HT-PEM consists of a mixture of polycation-polybenzimidazole (PBI) and it uses electrostatic interactions to anchor phosphoric acid inside the polymer matrix. The HT-PEMs have an area specific resistance (ASR) of 0.035 Ω-cm2 at 120 °C/0% RH and an ASR of 0.07 Ω-cm2 at -40 °C. The HT-PEMs are stable over 100 hours at 180 °C in a fuel cell device. Using the polycation-PBI HT-PEM with the PTFSPA ionomer electrode binder led to a peak power density of 0.9 W cm-2 with hydrogen-oxygen at 220 °C. The new HT-PEMs were developed by PI Arges at Louisiana State University (LSU) and have a pending patent application. The technology is being transferred to Ionomer Solutions LLC - a Louisiana startup co-founded by PI Arges. In this project, Ionomer Solutions LLC will develop electrodes with state-of-the-art PGM electrocatalysts that feature a blend of ionomer electrode binders (PTFSPA combined with PFSA). State-of-the-art electrodes use PFSA type of binders but have yet to be paired with ion-pair HT-PEMs. Although 0.9 W cm-2 with hydrogen-air at 240 °C was achieved with PTFSPA binders and an ion-pair HT-PEM by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the power density reduced to 0.3 W cm-2 at 120 °C – which is the preferred operating temperature for fuel cell manufacturers developing heavy duty vehicles (HDVs). The project team hypothesizes that using a more oxygen permeable ionomer binder, such as PFSA as opposed to a hydrocarbon material like PTFSPA, will enhance power density at 120 °C. However, PFSA cannot be used solely in the electrode at 120 °C because of its poor conductivity under low RH/lack of condensed water. Blending PTFSPA into the electrode with a PFSA is posited to provide sufficient proton conduction at 40% RH or less while not hampering gas reactant mass transfer. Eliminating condensed water in the cell is also anticipated to achieve ambitious stability metrics required for HDVs. With the PFSA-PTFSPA ionomer electrode blends paired with the ion-pair HT-PEM, Ionomer Solutions LLC will improve HT-PEMFC power density so that the technology can eventually achieve the M2FCT 2025 MEA target of 2.5 kW gPGM-1 (1.07 A cm-2 @ 0.7 V, < 0.3 mgPGM cm-2).
Topic Code
Solicitation Number


Last Modified 7/18/22

Period of Performance
Start Date
End Date
100% Complete

Funding Split
Federal Obligation
Non-Federal Obligation
Total Obligated
100.0% Federal Funding
0.0% Non-Federal Funding

Activity Timeline

Interactive chart of timeline of amendments to DESC0021877

Transaction History

Modifications to DESC0021877

Additional Detail

SAI Number
Award ID URI
Awardee Classifications
Small Business
Awarding Office
Funding Office
892401 SCIENCE
Awardee UEI
Awardee CAGE
Performance District
Bill Cassidy
John Kennedy
Garret Graves
Modified: 7/18/22