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An Introduction to Ion Exchange Membranes and Salt Splitting

Ion-exchanges membranes (IEMs) have many applications beyond fuel cells -- they can also be used to synthesize all types of compounds that are used in various industries. The most popular IEMs consist of polymeric resins with charged functional groups based upon their ion selectivity, they are referred to as anion-exchange (AEM) and...

Anion Exchange Membranes (AEMs)

Anion exchange membranes (AEMS) have been an active area of research for over a decade. AEMS can be used for fuel cells, redox flow batteries, electrolyzers, and even water desalination membranes. The electrolyte layer is the “heart” of electrochemical cells such as fuel cells, batteries, and because it transports ions from...

An Introduction to Alkaline Fuel Cells

Alkaline fuel cells (AFCs) was one of the first extensively researched fuel cell types and was used by NASA for the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions. The first alkali electrolyte fuel cell was built by Francis Thomas Bacon (1904–1992) in 1939. He used potassium hydroxide for the electrolyte and...

A One-Dimensional Heat, Mass and Charge Transfer Model for a Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stack

A one-dimensional heat, mass and charge transfer model was developed for a polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack to predict the temperatures, mass flows, pressure drops, and charge transport of each fuel cell layer over different operating conditions. The fuel cell layers’ boundaries were...

Fuel Cell Electrolyte Layer Modeling

The electrolyte layer is essential for a fuel cell to work properly. In PEM fuel cells (PEMFCs), the fuel travels to the catalyst layer and gets broken into protons (H+) and electrons. The electrons travel to the external circuit to power the load, and the hydrogen protons travel through the electrolyte until it reaches the cathode to combine with oxygen to form...

Processing Alternative Fuels for Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are not limited to pure hydrogen gas as fuel. Each type of fuel cell stack has different fuel tolerances. The lower the operating temperature of the stack, the stricter the requirements for pure fuel. For fuels other than pure hydrogen, an external fuel processing system may...

Chemical Hydrides

Fuel cells often use compressed hydrogen as the fuel; however, many other hydrogen sources can be used with fuel cells. Chemical hydride storage is an alternative method of producing hydrogen via a chemical reaction. These reactions involve chemical hydrides, water, and alcohols. The chemical reactions are not reversible, and the byproducts must be discarded. Hydrogen fuel can also...

Metal Hydrides

Fuel cells usually use compressed hydrogen as the fuel, but there are many other types of fuels that can be used. The type of fuel used depends upon the fuel cell application. Fuels are often in their final form before entering the fuel cell; however, certain fuel cell types can be processed on the inside of the fuel cell. Alternative fuel types are...

The Effect of Clamping Pressure on Fuel Cell Performance

There are many steps involved in the manufacturing of a fuel cell stack. One of these steps is the hot pressing of the polymer electrolyte membrane to the two gas diffusion layers (GDLs). This creates a three-layer laminate membrane electrode assembly (MEA). Other steps involve the machining or etching of the...

Mathematical Models

Mathematical models are a precise description of a problem, process, or technology in the form of mathematics. These models are built to learn more about a technology, system or method. The models explain why the system or process works the way it does and helps to study the effects and...

Introduction to Fuel Cell Testing

Those who wish to learn more about fuel cells, and even to build their own, may also want to learn how to test those fuel cells. In this post, we will review some basic terms, and introduce low-cost testing equipment and more sophisticated testing setups. First, however, an understanding of the fuel cell and electrical basics will...

Gas Diffusion Layer: Characteristics and Modeling

The gas diffusion layer (GDL) in a fuel cell can consist of a single layer or a double layer (gas diffusion layer and a microporous layer). The GDL is an essential part of the fuel cell because it causes the gases to spread out to maximize the contact surface area with the catalyst...

Explanation of the Thermodynamics Behind Fuel Cell & Electrolyzer Design

Thermodynamics is the study of energy changing from one form to another. Many predictions can be made using thermodynamic equations, and these are essential for understanding fuel cell and electrolyzer performance because these devices transform chemical energy into...

Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) Characterization

Selecting the appropriate technique to properly characterize the fuel cell is extremely important because it helps the user to understand why the fuel cell is performing well or poorly. These techniques will help discriminate between activation, ohmic and concentration losses, fuel crossover, and...

How to Build a Fuel Cell

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...