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Research Papers

# An Experimental Investigation of the Effects of the Environmental Conditions and the Channel Depth for an Air-Breathing Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Yong Hun Park

Arbin Instruments, 762 Peach Creek Cut Off Road, College Station, TX 77845

Jerald A. Caton

E3 (Engines, Emissions, Energy) Research Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3123

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 5(4), 041016 (Sep 11, 2008) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2971196 History: Received June 15, 2007; Revised November 26, 2007; Published September 11, 2008

## Abstract

The effects of the environmental conditions and the channel depth for an air-breathing polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell were investigated experimentally. The fuel cell used in this work included a membrane and electrode assembly, which possessed an active area of $25 cm2$ with Nafion® 117 membrane. Triple serpentine designs for the flow fields with two different flow depths were used in this research. The experimental results indicated that the relative humidity and temperature play an important role with respect to fuel cell performance. The fuel cell needs to be operated at least 20 min to obtain stable performance. When the shallow flow field was used, the performance increased dramatically for low humidity and slightly for high humidity. The current density was obtained around only $120 mA/cm2$ at $30°C$ with an 80% relative humidity, which was nearly double the performance for the deep flow field. The minimum operating temperature for an air-breathing fuel cell would be $20°C$. When it was $10°C$ at 60% relative humidity, the open circuit voltage dropped to around 0.65 V. The fuel cell performance improved with increasing relative humidity from 80% to 100% at high current density.

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## Figures

Figure 1

Schematic of experiment setup in Arbin passive fuel cell testing system

Figure 2

(a) The principle of the balanced temperature humidity chamber used in this study. (b) Air-breathing fuel cell’s testing setup inside of the temperature humidity chamber.

Figure 3

(a) Heat-up rate in the temperature chamber. (b) Pull-down rate in the temperature chamber.

Figure 4

Schematic of two different flow fields: (a) I-type flow field and (b) II-type flow field.

Figure 5

Open circuit voltage with different temperatures and relative humidities for the air-breathing PEM fuel cell. Flow field type (I-type).

Figure 6

Polarization curves and power density curve as function of the current density with different temperature and relative humidity. Flow field type (I-type).

Figure 7

Current and voltage corresponding to variation of relative humidity at the temperature chamber (40°C). Flow field type (II-type).

Figure 8

Polarization curves and power density curve as function of the current density with different temperatures and relative humidities. Flow field type (I-type).

Figure 9

Current density and power density. Flow field type (II-type).

Figure 10

Polarization curves and power density curve as function of the current density with different temperatures and relative humidities. Flow field type (I-type, II-type).

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