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Frost Institute’s Collaborative Research Initiative Awards Funding to MAE Professor

With thousands of zero-emission vehicles on roads worldwide, and nearly all of their power systems relying on proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), the challenge for engineers now becomes to make PEMFC technology competitive with conventional technologies (e.g. internal combustion engines). But in order to do so, significant strides must be achieved in both cost reduction and durability improvement.

Promising greater commercial viability, performance that rivals traditional engines and, most importantly, producing no harmful emissions, the Frost Institute for Chemistry and Molecular Science’s Collaborative Research Initiative awarded Hongtan Liu, a professor in the University of Miami College of Engineering’s (UMCoE) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with funding to prepare and investigate the structures and reactivity of new catalysts derived from molecular transition metal cluster complexes for fuel cells and related reactions.

“The dominant cost of PEMFC is the high cost of platinum catalysts that are currently used for both oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR),” Liu says

Liu’s project, in collaboration with Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry ‌Burjor Captain, will specifically focus on depending less on these platinum-based catalysts for proton-exchange membrane fuel cells

The awards were made in support of collaborative projects between the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences, focusing on topics related to the Frost Institute for Chemistry and Molecular Science.

As principal investigator for numerous federal government-funded projects, Liu has the experience needed to complete this project and to prepare future proposals for government agencies such as National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.

“I have the expertise, training and experience to successfully carry out the proposed research project,” he says. “I have a broad background in fuel cells, with specific experience in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells.”

He also has published coauthored more than 100 journal publications and more than 130 additional conference publications.

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