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Fuel Cell Modeling Basics

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Fuel Cell Primer

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...

Considerations for Stainless Steel Bipolar Plate Manufacturing

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...

Transport of Electrons through the Fuel Cell

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...

Materials Used for High-Temperature Fuel Cells

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...