Liten is a major European research institute and a driving force behind the development of the sustainable energy technologies of the future. The institute is spearheading the EU’s efforts to limit dependency on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in three key areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency/storage and development of materials.
Our platforms, sophisticated tools for industry & the scientific/technical infrastructure/expertise to overcome technological hurdles
Liten's research teams work across a vast portfolio of renewable energy technologies. Cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies are developed at INES, the French National centre for solar research and R&D with Hydrogen and Biomass activities being managed from the LITEN's main site in Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes.
“Radically improving energy efficiency will reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposure to fuel price volatility, increase energy affordability for low-income households and cut local and global pollutants improving consumer welfare” Source OECD Energy report, 2014
From nanosecurity, nanocharacterisation,and anti-counterfeiting technology to the development of advanced materials and point of sale: a comprehensive offering.
Transverse activities help add value to our technology portfolio. An optimised modeling and characterisation model, for example, can help reduce time to market. Browse this section to find out more....
Fuel cells: more efficient materials and membrane-electrode assemblies for better performance
Materials for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) for stationary and transportation applications have been a part of Liten’s fuel-cell research since the early 2000s. Our research aims to enhance the materials used and the membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) itself. We investigate designs, sizes, and methods suited to industrial-scale manufacturing and capable of achieving the levels of performance required by the target markets. Total cost of ownership also has to be competitive to position PEMFCs as an economically-viable alternative to current solutions.One of our objectives is to develop highly resistant materials with very long lifespans that can withstand 6,000 hours of use in transportation or 40,000 hours of use in stationary applications with degradation rates under 10%. Another objective is to reduce the amount of platinum—a strategic, costly, and increasingly rare metal—required in PEMFCs. While reducing the use of platinum is important, our researchers also maintain a big-picture view of the fuel-cell market, with knowledge of everything from materials to the electrode stack, again, with the goal of reducing total system costs. We start by testing and comparing existing materials and developing our own materials for FC MEAs. This research is backed by some top-tier facilities. We use our nanocharacterization platforms’ high-resolution electron microscopes to look at materials at the atomic scale and its chemical species mapping capabilities to gain insights into MEA makeup; our printing equipment can handle up to 200 electrodes per hour and we also have stacking and electrochemical and stack characterization equipment. Finally, we have access to the local large scientific instruments—the ESRF synchrotron and ILL—for in operando characterization and fuel-cell water management experiments. Our fuel-cell research leverages a vast array of scientific know-how, from chemistry, materials chemistry, printing techniques, processes, and electrochemistry to characterization and modeling.Our research covers:
Implementing materials in MEA electrodes (platinum and carbon black in the electrodes’ active layer); development of printing techniques to deposit materials on carbon paper or the membrane to obtain the best performance per surface area unit and per amount of platinum. The goal, of course, is to improve the materials-to-performance ratio, thereby reducing the surface area required, and, as a result, raw materials costs.
Using more suitable materials to improve performance, with a focus on materials that offer better gas dispersion and/or water management and materials that are easier to implement and/or integrate into an industrial process. Better performance and longer product lifespans result in lower costs for end users.
Liten is the only institute in France to cover the entire fuel-cell manufacturing process, from nanomaterials to stacks. We are uniquely positioned to conduct contract research on fuel-cell technologies for manufacturers in the automotive, energy, air and maritime transportation, and chemical and materials industries.
Broad, deep knowledge of materials for lower costs and higher levels of performance
Our research aims to reduce fuel-cell costs and provide the level of performance required by the target markets
For end users: we can create prototypes, optimize systems from materials to demonstrators, and select and design materials to obtain the desired levels of performance and lifespans for different applications
For materials specialists: we leverage a deep understanding of the technology and can benchmark your and your competitors’ materials and recommend ways for you to make your materials more competitive
Liten is a partner of the HyWay project. This eighteen-month project kicked off in October 2014 and is backed by the Rhône-Alpes regional government, the Rhône-Alpes sustainable development agency, and the French energy agency ADEME. This unique project entails rolling out an actual fleet of hybrid (battery/hydrogen) Renault Kangoo ZE utility vehicles equipped with Symbio FCell’s fuel-cell range extender, which leverages a technology developed at the CEA. A network of hydrogen filling stations is also being built in and around Lyon and Grenoble. The ultimate goal is to roll out a fleet of 50 of the vehicles.
Liten is active in a number of EU research projects. Since 2008, for instance, the institute has been involved in the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, a Joint Technology Initiative to organize European hydrogen and fuel-cell research. Some 20 R&D projects were completed between 2008 and 2013, and a new wave of projects kicked off in 2014:
NanoCat: development of advanced catalysts for PEMFC automotive applications
Impala: improved PEMFC with advanced water management and gas diffusion layers for automotive applications
Impact: improved lifetime of automotive application fuel cells with ultra-low pt-loading
Eureca: efficient use of resources in energy converting applications
Artemis: automotive PEMFC range extender with high temperature improved MEAs and stacks
20 researchers assigned to materials (synthesis, benchmarking, implementation, and electrochemical and chemical characterization) out of 60 researchers total assigned to FC for transportation research
100 FC-related patents
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CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.