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.
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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....
Energies | Renewable energies | Hydrogen | Fuel cells
Micro fuel-cells: an innovative solution for mobile devices
Since the early 2000s Liten has been developing a micro fuel-cell combining low-temperature PEMFC (proton exchange membrane fuel cell) technology and hydrogen-based energy storage. The goal is to create an efficient, low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries, a growing need on the digital and mobile equipment markets.
Liten began developing its first micro fuel-cell on silicon wafers, in R&D carried out with STMicroelectronics. The process turned out to be cost-prohibitive, and the focus of the research was shifted to alternative, lower-cost materials. Liten then partnered with BIC and Angstrom Power on a fuel-cell core and hydrogen cartridge system. The partners developed an innovative fuel-cell core in which the cells are arranged on a planar surface, making the fuel cells easier to integrate into flat and curved objects like smartphone cases.
Work on the hydrogen-based storage component continued in parallel. Liten contributed its knowledge of hydrogen production and storage chemistry; BIC leveraged its experience designing and manufacturing lighters—with know-how in plastics, pressurized liquid and gas, and mechanical engineering—to develop an innovative low-pressure hydrogen cartridge that safely regulates hydrogen production on demand. In 2014 a demonstrator system combining the fuel cell and cartridge was built in cooperation with BIC. The fuel-cell core was manufactured using the low-cost printing capabilities at the CEA's Pictic lab (LINK).
Together, the fuel-cell and cartridge, capable of producing hydrogen on demand, form a 5-W energy source that can be used to charge smartphones and tablets. And, because the cartridges are disposable, it is in theory possible to recycle or even to reuse the borates produced.
In 2012 Liten, Sagem, and BIC won the 39th annual IGA Chanson award for research, carried out under the Felin program (a French Ministry of Defense infantry equipment R&D program), to manufacture a fuel cell powered with a hydrogen cartridge. This technology offers specific energy of 300 Wh/kg, a threefold improvement over competing batteries.
Today Liten is working with Intelligent Energy, which acquired BIC's fuel-cell business) to develop planar fuel-cell cores from 1 W to 200 W and hydrogen cartridges with production capacities of 20 liters to 500 liters.
The fuel cell and cartridge combine to form a safe, portable off-grid charger.
The system is effective and the technology is mature, for low-cost scale-up to industrial manufacturing.
The technology is environmentally-friendly, given that the hydrogen is produced on demand and the cartridges are designed for recycling
Liten transferred the catalyst technology to BIC, but is still the leading center for research on FC chemistry, materials, and characterization.
Liten is studying new more efficient fuels (higher specific energy).
Liten is looking at ways to extrapolate the planar fuel-cell core and hydrogen cartridge combination to make other formats for higher-power applications. The French military's armament division is funding research that has thus far resulted in the development of a 120 Wh cartridge and a 10 W fuel-cell system. Other applications ranging from 10 W to 100 W are also on the drawing board.
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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.