Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Fuel Cell Technology for Transportation

The Laboratory's role in the development of fuel cells and hydrogen as an energy source began with the utilization of expertise related to hydrogen gained from Project Rover.
  • Forget jetpacks. Where are our hydrogen-powered cars?

    Forget jetpacks. Where are our hydrogen-powered cars?


  • Single atom (Fe) PGM-Free active site

    Single atom (Fe) PGM-Free active site


  • Los Alamos-led consortium works to enhance fuel cell technology

    Los Alamos-led consortium works to enhance fuel cell technology



  • Program Manager
  • Rod Borup
  • (505) 667 2823
  • Email
  • Program Manager
  • Andrea Maestas
  • (505) 667-1230
  • Email
  • Office Administrator
  • Crystal Gallegos
  • (505) 665-4595
  • Email

The Laboratory's role in the development of fuel cells and hydrogen as an energy source began with the utilization of expertise related to hydrogen gained from Project Rover, a program aimed at developing a nuclear-powered rocket. In 1977, DOE awarded the first the first Fuel Cells for Transportation program to LANL.

Since then scientists at Los Alamos have made scientific breakthroughs that have contributed to the development of the modern fuel cell systems. Examples of such technical innovations include cost-effective catalysts and electrodes, advanced materials for improved durability of systems, better operating strategies, and proving understanding impurities that inhibit fuel cell performance.

Los Alamos continues as a core laboratory for the DOE Fuel Cell program today, as is evident from the fact that LANL leads two DOE-awarded multi-lab consortia in this arena: a) Fuel Cell Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) consortium, a five-lab program focused on improvement of fuel cell component durability and improved cell performance and B) The Electrocatalysis Consortium, or ElectroCat, which is multi-lab program program focused on the development of PGM-free catalysts for fuel cells.

Program Areas


Staff Scientists

Rod Borup

BorupRod Borup has been a Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1999, starting as a post-doctoral researcher in 1994.  Rod is the Program Manager for the Fuel Cell and Vehicle Technologies Programs and is a Team Leader for fuel cells. He received his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iowa in 1988, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1993. He has worked on fuel cells for transportation at both Los Alamos and General Motors. He has been awarded 13 U.S. patents, authored ~ 100 papers related to fuel cell technology and presented over 100 oral papers at international and national meetings, with over 7200 citations and an H-factor of 32. He has led projects on hydrogen production, water transport and PEM fuel cell durability. He was the Principal Investigator for the 2004 Fuel Cell Seminar Best Poster Award, was awarded the 2005 DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award for his team's work in fuel cell durability, received the U.S. Drive 2012 Tech Team Award for the Fuel Cell Technical Team, was recently selected as the 2014 winner of the Research Award of the Energy Technology Division of the Electrochemical Society and PI for the 2015 Fuel Cell Seminar Best Poster Award. He received a 2016 DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office Annual Merit Award for Fuel Cells.He is a member of the DOE/US Drive Fuel Cell Technical Team, and is co-chair of the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office Durability Working Group and Director for the multi-lab consortium for Fuel Cell Performance and Durability (FC-PAD).

Eric Brosha

BroshaEric L. Brosha is a staff member in the Materials Physics and Applications division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received his BA (Summa Cum Laude) in physics from Rider College, Lawrenceville, NJ in 1989. He was awarded an Ashton Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, in 1989 and received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in August 1993. Eric joined the Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices group (MPA-11) in September 1993 as a postdoctoral researcher and worked on ion-conducting oxide thin film materials and devices. After being converted to staff member in 1996, Eric pursued novel electrochemical approaches for the recovery and separation of tritium in support of the Nation’s fusion and weapons programs and expanded this work to include water electrolysis and hydrogen production applications using high-temperature proton-conducting ceramics.  In 1999, his electrochemical sensor work was recognized with an R&D 100 award for the development of an advanced, robust sulfur resistance oxygen sensor for heavy boiler applications. Currently, his research interests include the development of electrochemical gas sensors and sensor systems engineering for vehicles and hydrogen safety applications. He has served as PI on projects focused on the development of NOx, HC, and NH3 electrochemical gas sensors for lean-burn engines and emissions systems and on a California-funded project to conduct field trials testing mixed-potential, zirconia based hydrogen safety sensors at commercial hydrogen fueling stations. This work was recently recognized by R&D Magazine as an R&D 100 Award Finalist in Fall of 2017. Eric is also presently engaged in the development and field-testing of an electrochemical, in-line H2 fuel quality analyzer prototypes for the DOE. Additional areas of interest include the growth of thin film oxide and nitride materials using physical vapor deposition methods, synthesis of hydrogen fuel cell catalysts, materials chemistry and electrochemistry of high-temperature solid-oxide fuel cell electrolyte and electrode materials, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and thermal analysis of materials.

Hoon Chung

Hoon Chung has been a Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2008, starting as a visiting scientist in 2007. He received his B.S.E. in inorganic materials from the Hanyang University in 1983, and his Master and Ph.D. in materials science from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He did post-Doc. Fellow at Tokyo Institute of Technology from 1993 to 1994. He had worked as a professor in the Dongshin University, South Kores, from 1990 to 2008.

Hoon is a material scientist with experience in the development of electrochemical energy storage and conversion (e.g., lithium ion batteries and fuel cells). To date, he has authored and co-authored ca. 60 scientific publications including Science with more than 4300 citations according to Google Scholar. He has been awarded 3 U. S. patents. His main focus area at LANL is the development of non-precious metal oxygen reduction reaction catalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.

Edward Holby

Edward (Ted) F. Holby has been a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2014, having started as a post-doctoral researcher in 2011. He received his B.A. in Physics from Carleton College in 2004 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. His research focuses on materials modeling of corrosion and electrocatalysis using multi-scale modeling approaches for energy and transportation applications. He has published 23 peer-reviewed articles and one book chapter with over 1150 citations and an h-index of 13. He is part of a collaborative team that was awarded an R&D100 finalist nomination (with final decision to be announced shortly). He was awarded “Outstanding Poster Award Winner” at the LANL 2014 Postdoc research day as well as “Best National Solution to Climate Change” in the 2009 Climate Leadership Challenge, sponsored by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a cofounder of the UW-Madison Energy Hub student group that connects students to research and job opportunities in the energy industry. Ted is an active member of the LANL/ANL led Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat), a member of the Energy Materials Network. This collaboration aims to improve state of the art precious metal free electrocatalysts for fuel cell applications.

Yu Seung Kim

KimDr. Yu Seung Kim is a staff scientist at Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices (MPA-11), Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Kim presently leads the alkaline membrane fuel cell project funded by US Department of Energy. His research focuses on the fundamental and applied science of fuel cells, including development of ion exchange polymer electrolytes and understanding of catalyst-ionomer interface for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (1999). After three years of post-doctoral training at Virginia Tech, he joined LANL fuel cell team (2003). He has published ~70 papers with total citations > 11,000 times and an H-factor of 36. He is an author of 7 book chapters on polymer fuel cell technologies. He has credits for 20+ US patents and is the three-time awardee of LANL Outstanding Innovation Technology Transfer Awards (2009, 2012 & 2013). He received special recognition by US DOE Assistant Secretary, David Danielson for his tech to market transfer efforts (2014). He received Outstanding Technical Achievement Award from US DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Program (2016).

Cortney Kreller

Cortney Kreller is a staff scientist in the Materials Physics and Applications (MPA) Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington. Her graduate research focused on the measurement and modeling of nonlinear rate processes governing the performance of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) cathodes. She conducted postdoctoral work at Imperial College London prior to joining Los Alamos as a postdoctoral researcher in 2011.  Kreller’s research interests include electrochemical sensors, electrosynthesis of fuels, intermediate temperature fuel cells, and the interplay of crystalline disorder and ionic transport. She recently received the J.Bruce Wagner Jr. award from The Electrochemical Society.

Ulises Martinez

Ulises MartinezUlises Martinez has been a Staff Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2016. He joined LANL in 2013 as a postdoctoral research associate working with Piotr Zelenay in the development of platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) electrocatalysts for fuel cell applications. He received B.A. degrees in Chemistry and Physics from Goshen College, Indiana in 2004. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering were obtained at the University of New Mexico in 2009 and 2012, respectively. His Ph.D. work focused on the development of PGM-free anode catalysts for direct hydrazine fuel cells in collaboration with Daihatsu Motor Co. He has authored ~ 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 3 awarded patents and a few more patent applications pending. He was a fellow of the NSF graduate research program (NSF-GRFP), integrative graduate education and research traineeship (NSF-IGERT), and the engineering innovation program (ASEE/NSF-EIFP). His research focuses in the development of novel PGM-free catalysts for fuel cell and electrolyzer applications including materials synthesis, physical and electrochemical characterization, and device evaluation and optimization.

Rangachary Mukundan

MukundanRangachary Mukundan (Mukund) is a technical staff member at the Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices (MPA-11) group. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) in February 1997.  His thesis titled "Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Barium Cerate-Based Perovskites for Potential Fuel Cell Applications" was awarded the S. J. Stein Prize for superior achievement in the field of new or unique materials in electronics. His current research interests include fuel cells, electrochemical gas sensors, and energy storage devices. He is as a thrust area coordinator in the DOE consortium for Fuel Cell Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) and leads a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project to advance non-aqueous flow batteries for grid scale energy storage.  He is the co-inventor on 6 US patents and has authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal and transaction papers. His work has also been recognized through numerous awards including an R&D 100 award in 1999, the Scientific American’s top 50 Science and Technology achievements for 2003, the J.B Wagner Award of the High Temperature Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society in 2005 and the Sensor Division outstanding achievement award in 2016. He served on the Board of Directors of the Electrochemical Society from 2006-2008 as the sensor division chair and is currently a fellow of the society serving as the technical editor in the area of Sensors and Measurement Sciences for the ECS Journals.

Tommy Rockward

Tommy Rockward is currently a Research Scientist in the Materials, Physics, and Applications Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received his B.S in Physics in 1994 and M.S. in Applied Physics from Southern University in December, 1998. His theses focused on optimizing polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell performance in the presence of reformate gas. His work has continued over 15 years at LANL and expanded to include cathodes and contaminants issues.  He has actively participated in the USFCC Materials and Components Working Group to establish a standardized testing protocol for fuel cells.

Tommy served as the U.S. international representative to establish a hydrogen fuel standard for the Department of Energy’s Safety, Codes, and Standards sub-program. Tommy is responsible for conducting experiments and with different contaminants to probe their impact on an operating fuel cell using various operating conditions. To date, Tommy has disseminated results to a broad audience that included collaborators such as Japan, Korea, Germany, and France to name a few. His efforts were instrumental in developing an international hydrogen fuel quality standard. 

In addition, Tommy also served as sub-committee chair for the ASTM D03.14 group. This group was formed to establish standard test methods to detect trace contaminants in gaseous hydrogen fuel for the DOE’s Safety, Codes, and Standards Program.  More recently, Tommy led a successful effort to launch a new collaboration with Minority Serving Institutes (MSI) that includes Southern University A. & M. (Baton Rouge), Allen University, Prairie View A. & M., Tennessee State University, and Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, Benedict College, and Florida A. & M. University.  Tommy expects that this effort will help improve the core capabilities at each institute both experimentally and analytically.  This will hopefully improve students’ employment opportunities at National Laboratories.  Tommy has co-authored several publications and received three patents (Non-Aqueous Liquid Compositions Comprising Ion Exchange Polymers in July 2011 and Non-Aqueous Liquid Compositions Comprising Ion Exchange Polymers Reference to Related Applications in August 2012) as well as a more recent patent, Hydrogen Fuel Quality Analyzer with Self-Humidifying Electrochemical Cell and Methods of Fuel Cell Testing (November 2016).

Troy A. Semelsberger

Troy SemelsbergerTroy A. Semelsberger began his LANL career as a graduate research student under the mentorship of Rod L. Borup, converted to a LANL post-doctoral position with Kevin C. Ott in 2005 and subsequently converted to a LANL staff scientist in 2006.  Troy A. Semelsberger received a B.A. in Chemistry from the College of Wooster and a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 1996.  Troy received his Masters and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 1999 and 2005, respectively.   He served in the United States Army Reserves and was Honorably Discharged in 1998.  Troy has over 50 publications (published or in preparation) where he is first author on 25 of them.  He contributed a book chapter (Chemical Hydrogen Storage in Chemical Carriers) in the Encyclopedia of Electrochemical Power Sources.  He has an H-factor of 14 and over 2000 citations.  His research contributions have garnered over 10,000 reads on Research Gate.  He has given numerous oral presentations on energy related topics including hydrogen storage, hydrogen production, and materials research.  His research on dimethyl ether has been used and cited by numerous energy companies around the world.  He was a contributing member of the DOE Chemical Hydrogen Storage Material Center of Excellence (Directors: Bill Tumas and Kevin Ott).  He was the LANL P.I. and the Chemical Hydrogen Storage System Architect for EERE’s Hydrogen Storage Engineering Center of Excellence (HSECoE).  He is a member of Sigma Xi, the International Honor Society of Science and Engineering Research (inducted in 2005).  Troy was awarded the 2014 DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Program R&D Award In recognition of outstanding achievements in the analysis of chemical hydrogen storage material systems.  Troy was also part of two performance awards given in 2015—Distinguished Performance Award: ALT 940 Comparison of Concepts Competition Winning Team and the Defense Programs Exceptional Achievement Team Award.  Troy is a board member with the Hydrogen Storage and Production Team within H2@Scale.  He served has Co-Chair of the Fuel Reforming Session of the 205th ECS Meeting and as the Co-Chair of the Hydrogen Storage Session of the 2012 World Hydrogen Energy Conference. His current research focus is focused on catalyst development and materials characterization for converting biomass to high valued chemicals and fuels (BETO: CoOptima, ChemCat Bio and FCIC).  His interests are in reaction engineering and catalysis while pushing the design envelope for collecting reaction and materials data under extreme conditions.

Jacob Spendelow

SpendelowJacob Spendelow joined LANL as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow in 2006 and became a staff member in 2008. Prior to joining LANL he received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from CWRU in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from UIUC in 2006, where he was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In addition to his research work, Jacob served for several years as a science advisor and as a program manager at the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office, where he managed R&D projects related to polymer electrolyte membranes, catalysts and supports, and reversible fuel cells. His current research interests include development of nanostructured electrocatalysts based on platinum alloys and intermetallics, development of novel electrode architectures for fuel cells and other electrochemical devices, and development of fuel cell diagnostic techniques. He has co-authored more than 30 technical publications, with more than 2,000 citations, and has an h-index of 18. He is a member of the DOE/US Drive Fuel Cell Technical Team.

Dusan Spernjak

Dusan Spernjak earned BS degree in mechanical engineering in 2000 from the University of Novi Sad (Novi Sad, Yugoslavia) and a PhD in mechanical engineering in 2010 from the University of Delaware (Newark, Delaware).

He has a diverse experience as an R&D engineer, project lead, research scientist, university lecturer, and design engineer. He has been at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) since 2010 (Los Alamos, New Mexico): after postdoctoral appointment at MPA-11 (Sensors and Electrochemical Devices), he has been a staff R&D Engineer in Mechanical and Thermal Engineering group (AET-1). His work spans across a wide range of areas, including conventional and renewable energy, hydrogen fuel cells, neutron and x-ray imaging, 3D laser scanning, material characterization, and offshore engineering. His recent work includes mechanical and thermal design and analyses of systems and components for weapons testing.

Dr. Spernjak serves as a chair of the ASME for Northern New Mexico (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and is also a member of the Electrochemical Society.

Mahlon S. Wilson

WilsonMahlon S. Wilson started at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1989 as a post doctoral researcher after receiving his Ph.D. in chemical engineering earlier that year from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  His B.S. was also in Chem. Eng., from University of California at Davis in 1982. His postdoctoral research at LANL was in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), and after becoming a technical staff member in 1991, he has been working primarily in the field since, mostly developing fuel cell materials, components, stacks, and systems.  All current commercial PEFC stacks use some of his technologies, primarily “thin-film” catalyst layer membrane-electrode-assemblies (MEAs), and single-sided microporous gas diffusion layers (GDLs).  He worked with major fuel cell suppliers (e.g., DuPont, 3M, W.L. Gore) in their development of related commercial products.  Additional industrial collaborations include a composite bipolar plate formulation that is the leading commercial product by volume.  He has developed a number of fuel cell stacks and systems, several of which have been commercialized.  The majority of his 20 patents have been licensed, and combined with his publications have been cited over 8000 times.  In addition to fuel cells, Mahlon has contributed to projects in fuel processing, hydrogen storage, hydrogen purification, sensors, and industrial electrochemical reactors.

Piotr Zelenay

ZeleanyPiotr Zelenay received his Ph.D. and D.Sc. (“habilitation”) degrees in chemistry from the University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Texas A&M University, College Station (1983-1986), a visiting professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (1988, 1989, 1990-92), University of Alicante, Spain (1994), and Colorado State University (1996-1997). Dr. Zelenay was appointed a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, University of Warsaw in 1983 and remained at the University until 1997 when he accepted permanent research position with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Dr. Zelenay has been associated with Materials Physics and Applications Division (formerly Materials Science and Technology Division) at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the past 20 years.

He is currently Los Alamos Laboratory Fellow, as well as Project Leader and Team Leader at LANL, focusing primarily on fundamental and applied aspects of polymer electrolyte fuel cell science and technology, electrocatalysis and electrode kinetics. Dr. Zelenay has published over 180 research articles, many in renowned scientific journals, including Nature, Science, Chemical Reviews, and Accounts of Chemical Research, and has co-authored over 400 presentations, of which ca. 170 have been invited, keynote, and plenary lectures. He has 21 patents and patent applications in the area of polymer electrolyte fuel cells.

Since becoming Project Leader for the LANL Fuel Cell Program in 2000, Dr. Zelenay has led numerous large research projects totaling more than $50M in research funding, and received more than 20 awards and recognitions. Among other distinctions, he was awarded Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellowship “in recognition of sustained outstanding scientific contributions” (2016); National Professorship in Chemistry by the President of Poland (2015); Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows Prize “for longstanding contributions to the understanding of non-precious metal electrocatalysts for fuel cells” (2015); Fellowship of the Electrochemical Society “for major contributions in the development of materials and concepts for polymer electrolyte fuel cells” (2014); Research Award of the Electrochemical Society Energy Technology Division “for fundamental and applied advances in polymer electrolyte fuel cell science and technology, electrocatalysis, and electrode kinetics” (2013); and DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Fuel Cell Technologies “for research on non-precious metal electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction” (2010). Dr. Zelenay is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Warsaw, Poland, co-director of Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat, part the DOE-EERE Energy Materials Network), chair of the DOE Catalysis Working Group, an active member of the Electrochemical Society and International Society of Electrochemistry and Materials Research Society, a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Electrocatalysis, the steering committee board member of the International Academy of Electrochemical Energy Science (IAOEES), advisory board member of Israel National Research Center for Electrochemical Propulsion (INREP) and University of California Merced Nanomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing (MACES), and chairman of technical advisory board of  Pajarito Powder, LLC.