BEST Center

MRL Building
Hastings Road
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-6237


BEST - Facilities

Electrochemical Laboratory

Scribner PEM Fuel Cell Station in the Electrochemical LabThe Electrochemical Laboratory, directed by BEST member Serguei N. Lvov, is equipped with a number of unique, custom-made apparatuses for electrochemical characterization, measurements, and tests and high temperatures and pressures. The lab also hosts a range of instrumental facilities for conducting conventional electrochemical measurements. The unique techniques developed by our staff scientists combined with the state-of-the-art facilities allow us to lead sophisticated research in hot technological areas, attracting sponsors and collaborators from the government, universities, and private industries. Researchers have a high level of expertise in electrochemistry, interfacial processes, fuel cell technologies, corrosion, electrochemical kinetics, transport processes, chemical thermodynamics, and other fundamental areas of science. Specializations of the laboratory include:

  1. electrochemical measurements in high temperature subcritical and supercritical aqueous systems;
  2. high-temperature microelectrophoresis studies; and
  3. development of new materials and systems for high-temperature proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

We have all necessary capabilities for fabrication, complete electrochemical characterization, and performance tests for both PEM fuel cells and solid oxide fuel cells.

Electrochemical Laboratory facilities:

  • High-temperature zetameter used for measurements of electrophoretic mobility and zeta potential of particulate materials in high temperature solutions
  • Arbin solid oxide fuel cell station, which can be used for testing single cells and stacks and includes Solartron electronics to perform sophisticated impedance analysis under open circuit or polarization conditions
  • Scribner PEM fuel cell station (shown above), which provides a capability for an automated control of gas flow rate, relative humidity, and temperature
  • Electrochemical impedance spectoscopy, used for detailed electrochemical characterization of a variety of systems and processes, including fuel cell performance, corrosion, conductivity, and component degradation
  • Supercritical CO2 systems for sequestration research, used to study phase equilibria and metal corrosion in supercritical CO2 fluid
  • Electrochemical cells to test the ionic conductivity of membrane materials
  • CuCl electrolyzer to study the performance of various membrane materials and MEAs for hydrogen gas production from electrolysis of CuCl+HCl solutions

For more information on the Electrochemical Laboratory's capabilities, visit www.energy.psu.edu/elc/facilities.html.

 

Materials Chemistry and Polymer Synthesis Lab

Research in the Materials Chemistry and Polymer Synthesis LabThe Materials Chemistry and Polymer Synthesis Lab, led by BEST member Michael Hickner, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, specializes in polymer synthesis and materials characterization with emphasis placed on structure-property relationships as they relate to transport in polymers. Researchers use the tools of polymer science and engineering as well as spectroscopy and electrochemistry to investigate the properties of polymeric materials for use in applications such as Li-ion battery electrodes, non-aqueous electrolytes, and redox flow battery membranes. Facilities include dedicated space for synthesis, a materials characterization lab, and specialized spectroscopy instrumentation.

The synthesis lab has seven chemical fume hoods suitable to accommodate up to ten researchers. The lab is fully stocked for organic synthesis with glassware, ovens, heating mantels and hot plates, vacuum and nitrogen lines, desiccators, chillers, and two rotary evaporators. We maintain separate THF and DMF/LiBr mobile phase gel permeation chromatographs for polymer molecular weight and polydispersity characterization.

The characterization lab has capabilities for conductivity measurements of samples including a Karl Suss PM5 probe station with AC and DC measurement capabilities and an ESPEC SH-241 environmental chamber. The lab also houses our TA Instruments thermal and RH analyzers, Waters HPLC, Anton Paar SurPASS, our electrochemical equipment, Bruker Vertex FTIR, facilities for sample preparation including spin coater and plasma chamber.

The dedicated FTIR and Raman spectrometers with in-situ device capability are housed adjacent to the synthesis and characterization laboratories in the MATSE Center for Optical Studies.

For more information on Michael Hickner's Research Group, visit www2.matse.psu.edu/fac/hicknergroup/.

 

Energy Nanostructure Laboratory

The Energy Nanostructure LaboratoryThe Energy Nanostructure Laboratory (E-Nano), directed by BEST member Donghai Wang, focuses on nanomaterial development for clean energy technologies, such as batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, and environmental remediation. The experimental research includes nanomaterial synthesis, characterization and device fabrication and evaluation. Nanomaterials are made by a variety of methods, including sol-gel method, high temperature synthesis, templating approach, and self-assembly. Material characterizations are performed using state of the art techniques. The nanomaterials are evaluated in fabricated devices such as batteries, solar cells, fuel cells and reactors for clean energy application. Researchers in the E-Nano Lab aim to develop new materials to improve performance of the clean energy techniques and guide development of advanced energy techniques.

The E-Nano facilities have all the equipment needed to test the synthesized materials for energy storage application including electrode coating equipment, vacuum ovens, two Ar-filled glove boxes, coin cell assembly setup, hundreds of channels for battery cell testers.

For more information on the E-Nano lab, visit mne.psu.edu/dwang/.

 

Electrochemical Engine Center

Center director Chao-Yang Wang in the Electrochemical Engine CenterThe Electrochemical Engine Center, founded in 1997 and directed by BEST co-director Chao-Yang Wang, conducts fundamental and applied research on fuel cells and advanced batteries for electric propulsion, stationary power generation and portable electronics. The ECEC has capabilities in fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-design, MEA fabrication, parallel computing and modeling labs. In addition, an array of experimental test equipment including F ourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Gas Chromatography, mass spectroscopy, high speed digital imaging, AC-impedance spectroscopy and environmental chamber for cold start studies are available.

Battery facilities include the Battery Manufacturing Laboratory as well as testing equipment like environmental chambers, Arbin battery testing stations, and many 3-electrode cells for testing cylindrical and prismatic batteries. Fuel cell fabrication facilities include a ball grinder, mixer-homogenizer, an automatic drawdown machine, a high-temperature hydraulic press, and manual and automatic spraying facilities. Fuel cell testing facilities include a number of Arbin and Teledyne fuel cell testing systems, Solartron Analytical equipment, a micro gas chromatograph and three environmental chambers. Modeling capabilities include fuel cell modeling using CFD Packages, Fluent, and Star-CD; computational facilities include a 50-node Beowulf cluster and a 32-node high performance Beowulf cluster.

For more information on the ECEC, visit its webpage at ecec.mne.psu.edu.

 

Battery Manufacturing Lab

The Battery Manufacturing LaboratoryThe Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Battery Manufacturing Lab (BML), part of the Electrochemical Engine Center, allows for fabrication of both cylindrical 18650 li-ion cells and prismatic pouch cells, which can be more rapidly fabricated to initially and quickly test internal modifications. The BML is presently the only such facility at a U.S. university. Because the facility allows researchers to fabricate automotive batteries from raw materials, they are free to vary these constituents and interior structures of the battery to improve performance, cycle life and cost.

The facilities include a mixer for preparing the electrode slurry material, a semi-automatic coating machine, an apparatus for slitting the electrodes, an electrode winding machine, ultrasonic and arc welders for attaching tabs to the electrodes and to the 18650 cans, a two-person glove box which provides the moisture- and oxygen-free environment required by the electrolyte, an electrolyte filling machine and a crimper for sealing the battery once it is filled.

Specific equipment for battery testing includes environmental chambers, several Arbin battery testing stations--some some capable of sourcing and sinking currents as high as 200 Amperes--and many 3-electrode cells for testing cylindrical and prismatic batteries. Experimental li-ion capabilities include an 18650 Li-ion fabrication facility, a coin cell facility, environmental chambers and glove boxes, battery testing stations, an extended volume accelerated rate calorimeter, nail penetration test equipment, and 3-electrode cells for cylindrical and prismatic batteries.

For more information on the BML, visit ecec.mne.psu.edu/Facilities-Liion.html.

 

Mechatronics Research Lab

Mechatronics Research LabThe Mechatronics Research Laboratory has a full complement of electronic test equipment (oscilloscopes, signal generators, multimeters, etc.) and tools, compressed air and pneumatic accessories, DC regulated power supplies, five, two channel Techron 2 kW linear amplifiers, a Techron 4kW linear amplifier, a TREK high voltage amplifier, an eight-channel signal interface box, high-speed computer I/O boards, electric actuators, encoders, nine high-speed computational PCs, RTLT Simulink-based control software, Qmotor real-time multitasking control software, WinCon real-time software, DSPACE ACE real-time control workstation, LabView data acquisition workstation, vibration isolation tables, and a battery mechatronics workstation with charge/discharge control and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

For more information on the Mechatronics Research Lab, visit its webpage at me.psu.edu/mrl/.

 

Battery Testing Lab

Battery Testing LabThe energies of the Battery Application Technology Testing & Energy Research Laboratory (BATTERY) at Penn State are dedicated to the development and testing of advanced chemistry batteries at the application level, including full electric vehicle energy storage and management systems. The laboratory supports the efforts and initiatives of vehicle and component manufacturers as well as researchers in both government and industry. Research includes battery system evaluation and characterization in various environmental conditions and loading profiles.

The laboratory performs battery characterization, thermal management system development/testing, and hardware in the loop analysis. Many automotive scenarios are exercised using real time simulation and dynamic control of laboratory equipment. Facilitating this research and testing are an AeroVironment ABC150 or AV900 power processing machine and or walk-in environmental chamber.

The laboratory is capable of testing from 8 VDC to 900VDC

systems up to +/- 1000 Amps in -65 to 85 degree Celsius climates including humidity control.

The laboratory also supports research and testing of other electrochemical engines such as hydrogen fuel cells or even small engine/generator systems. Vehicle integration and design assistance as well as full vehicle testing from hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) to full prototypes are also performed on site.

Links to hardware specifications:

For more information on the Battery Research Laboratory, visit its webpage at www.larson.psu.edu/battery or contact battery@engr.psu.edu.