German company BASF has partnered with hydrogen fuel cell specialists from HyPoint to develop a membrane that will increase the power of fuel cells by 50%.

Previously, HyPoint developed fuel cells for use in aviation. The developers said that their capacity will be three times higher than that of analogues. But thanks to a new proton-conducting membrane, developed in partnership with BASF, their power density will increase by another 50%.

Proton-conducting membranes are a key component of hydrogen fuel cells. To develop them, hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) gases are placed on both sides of the membrane, which is designed to transmit only single positively charged hydrogen protons. Further, the platinum catalyst splits each H2 molecule into two H + protons and two electrons.

After that, the protons move through the membrane towards oxygen, and the electrons meet with them after passing through the electric circuit, this is how a current is created. Electrons, protons, and oxygen then combine on the other side to form water.

HyPoint, in turn, is developing a unique air-cooled, turbocharged fuel cell that differs from traditional designs in that it uses higher temperatures and pressures to allow more protons to pass through the membrane faster. As a result, more energy is produced. For a given power output, HyPoint says the new fuel cell is much lighter than its counterparts, in part because it doesn’t need cooling devices. Developers suggest using it in zero-emission aircraft.

Now both companies have joined forces to test and develop a new membrane: its performance will reach 3000 W / kg, which is 50% more than in similar systems. It can operate at higher temperatures and pressures than before, and it also has stronger mechanical properties.