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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...

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...

Power Electronics for Renewable Energy Systems

Hybrid renewable energy power systems are positioned to become the long-term power solution for portable, transportation and stationary system applications. Hybrid power systems are virtually limitless in possible setups and configurations to produce the desired power for a particular system. A hybrid system can consist of...

Carbon Nanotubes

There are many novel hydrogen methods that are currently being investigated that offer the potential for higher energy density than conventional methods. These include hydrogen storage in carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are unique structures with exceptional electronic and...

Biological Fuel Cells (BFCs) and the Bio-production of Hydrogen

A biological fuel cell (BFC) or microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a type of fuel cell that converts biochemical energy into electrical energy. Like other types of fuel cells, a biological fuel cell consists of an anode, a cathode, and a membrane that conducts ions. In the anode compartment, fuel is oxidized by microorganisms, and the result is...

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...

Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Improvements

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...