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Pressure Distribution in Bipolar Plate Flow Channels

After the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) has been fabricated, it must be integrated into a fuel cell stack. The stack has multiple jobs, including evenly distributing fuel and oxidant to the cells, collecting the current to power the desired devices, and evenly distributing or discarding heat and...

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...

How to Estimate Electricity Requirements

When you receive your energy bill each month, you may not understand exactly how the total amount has been calculated. Every device or appliance in your household contributes to the total sum of the bill. To figure out which appliances and devices are using the most energy, you can estimate 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...

Fuel Cell Heat Flow

Understanding the flow of heat in a fuel cell is important to design and build a fuel cell properly. The energy that flows into and out of each process unit in the fuel cell needs to be accounted for to determine areas of excess heat and the overall energy requirements. There are several methods that...

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...

Introduction to Solar: Part 2

When a PV cell is exposed to sunlight, the photons of the absorbed sunlight dislodge the electrons from the atoms of the cell. The free electrons then move through the cell, creating and filling in holes. It is this movement of electrons and holes that generate electricity. The process of converting...

Introduction to Solar: Part 1

Most of us are familiar with solar cells because we encounter them every day – in calculators, street lamps, and traffic road signs. If these devices have enough light, they can theoretically work forever. Solar or photovoltaic (PV) cells are made up of many individuals cell stacked together. The cell material is a...

Energy Harnessed from the Wind: Part 2

Wind power generates electricity by transferring energy from wind to mechanical energy. The principle behind wind turbines is very simple: the energy in the wind turns two or three blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity. Wind turbines are mounted on...

Energy Harnessed from the Wind: Part I

Imagine that something that you cannot see can have enough movement to harness energy! From a scientific perspective, air is like any other fluid -- if it can be moved forcefully, the motion provides kinetic energy. In a wind-electric turbine, the turbine blades capture the kinetic energy of the...

Considerations for Stainless Steel Bipolar Plate Manufacturing: Part 2

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...