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Dr. Alan M. Lane

  • Emeritus Professor

Education

  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, 1984
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Washington, 1977
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Washington, 1977

Biography

Dr. Lane’s research focused on heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis applied to fuel cells and the hydrogen economy, along with new interests in batteries and photovoltaics. PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cells require hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is made by reacting a fuel with air and/or water. Purification requires water-gas shift and preferential oxidation steps to reduce the carbon monoxide concentration to tolerable levels. At the fuel cell anode, hydrogen molecules must dissociate, with the electrons traveling through the bipolar plate to an external circuit and protons moving through the membrane. When the protons arrive at the cathode, they must combine with oxygen and the returning electrons. Each of these reactions is controlled by a catalyst, typically made with platinum group metals. These metals are very expensive and strategically limited, but they remain the current materials of choice. Our overall objective is to facilitate fuel cell technology by reducing the amount of these materials required, by using them more effectively, and by finding active non-precious metal catalysts. This work is coordinated with the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technology (CAVT) and has been funded by Ballard, DOE, Argonne National Laboratory and the CAVT.