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The first step in building a fuel cell is to determine the power requirements needed to power the particular device or application. Fuel cells can be used to power anything including phones, laptops, automobiles, buses, houses, businesses and even space shuttles! A single fuel cell can be designed to achieve any current required for a particular application by merely increasing or decreasing the size of the...
Fuel cells with polymer electrolyte membranes are appealing because of their low-temperature operation and relatively simple construction. The polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell consists of two catalyst electrodes (the anode and cathode) separated by polymer electrolyte. Gaseous fuels are fed continuously to the anode (negative electrode), while...
Fuel cells produce electricity from reactants such as oxygen and hydrogen -- although other fuels besides hydrogen can be used. The electrochemical reaction produces water and heat as byproducts. Fuel cells are much more efficient than the internal combustion engine because they provide more...
Low-temperature fuel cells have historically used CNC-machined graphite as bipolar plates. Graphite’s high-cost, high-permeability, and precise machining processes have presented difficulties for the large-scale market. Due to this, many other materials have been investigated, including carbon composite materials and...
If you look at any basic fuel cell diagram, you can see that the fuel cell generates electrons. In the scientific or engineering circles, these electrons have many names, but a common term is “charge transport.” Charge transport is the movement of charges from the electrode (where they are produced) to the...
In a previous blog post, we described bipolar plates and the associated materials for low-temperature fuel cells. The materials previously described are selected for fuel cell stacks at or slightly above room-temperature -- which means that the materials are chemically compatible with the stack between 0 – 140 °C. The fuel cells that operate at higher temperatures require...
The fuel cell polarization curve provides useful information on fuel cell performance, however; additional information is needed to study its performance characteristics accurately. Cell resistance provides insightful information about a fuel cell that is not completely captured by polarization curves. Since fuel cell current densities are high in comparison with...
One of the greatest challenges associated with PEMFCs is the water balance in the fuel cell stack. As the chemical reaction occurs in each cell, water is generated. Depending upon the load and the operating conditions, there is a tendency for the fuel cells to both flood and dry-out. The water content in the...
Different characterization techniques enable the quantitative comparison of every property and part of the fuel cell stack. By characterizing the fuel cell properly, you can understand why the fuel cell is performing well or poorly. These techniques help discriminate between activation, ohmic and concentration losses, fuel crossover, and...
Fuel cell operating conditions depend upon the cell and stack design. The operating parameters that affect fuel cell performance are: Operating Pressure, Operating Temperature, Flow Rates of Reactants, and Humidity of Reactants. Using the correct operating condition for each parameter is...
The gas diffusion layer is sandwiched between the catalyst layer and the bipolar plates as shown in Figure 1. The gas diffusion layer (GDL) provides electrical contact between electrodes and the bipolar plates and distribute reactants to the electrodes. The GDL also allows the water that is generated as a result of the chemical reaction to move between the electrodes and the ...
Gas Diffusion Layers (GDL) are one of the components in different types of fuel cells including, but not limited, to Proton Exchange Membrane and Direct Methanol fuel cells. Gas Diffusion Layers serve to provide conductivity in the cell and control the contact between the reactant gases and the catalyst. This layer also aids in managing the water transport out of the membrane. Another essential function of a GDL is to provide a connection between the membrane electrode assembly and graphite plates in the fuel cell stack.