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Fuel cell modeling is helpful for fuel cell developers because it can lead to fuel cell design improvements, as well as cheaper, better, and more efficient fuel cells. The model must be robust and accurate and be able to provide solutions to fuel cell problems quickly. A good model should predict fuel cell performance under a wide range of...
The performance of a fuel cell stack can be estimated using a few equations combined with some input data. A common way of characterizing performance of different fuel cell stacks is using polarization curves. Although you cannot pinpoint specific issues with these curves, they will allow you to calculate the overall performance. An example polarization curve is...
As fuel cell size decreases, the transport phenomena of the fuels and water changes in the fuel cell. In standard fuel cell designs, the movement of fuel and water is governed by volumetric effects, but surface effects become critical as dimensions shrink. A good rule of thumb is that millimeter-scale devices are small enough for...
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...
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...
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...
Each component of the fuel cell must be designed properly – otherwise, you run the risk of decreasing fuel cell performance. The bipolar plates are termed “bipolar” because they have flow fields on both sides. This design is very convenient when you have membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) on both sides. In a fuel cell with a...
After you understand the basic concepts around designing, building, and testing fuel cells, the next step is optimization. Optimization often involves extensive experimentation and testing, however, sometimes experimentation does not yield the expected results. Mathematical modeling is useful when phenomena cannot be visually...
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...