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Technical Briefs

A New Complex Design for Air-Breathing Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells Aided by Rapid Prototyping

[+] Author and Article Information
Chen-Yu Chen

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road, Tainan 70101, Taiwan, ROCaeroshower@msn.com

Yun-Che Wen, Wei-Hsiang Lai, Ming-Chang Chou

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road, Tainan 70101, Taiwan, ROC

Biing-Jyh Weng, Ching-Yuan Hsieh, Chien-Chih Kung

Electro-Optics Research Division, Chung-Shan Institute of Science & Technology, No. 15, Shi Qi Zi, Gaoping Village, Longtan Township, Taoyuan County 32544, Taiwan, ROC

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 8(1), 014502 (Oct 13, 2010) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002227 History: Received January 22, 2009; Revised May 25, 2010; Published October 13, 2010; Online October 13, 2010

One of the most difficult issues to fabricate a fuel cell with a complex design is the manufacturing method. To solve this difficulty, the authors applied an innovative method of fuel cell fabrication, i.e., rapid prototyping technology. The rapid prototyping technology can both fabricate the complex design and shorten the fabrication time. In this paper, the authors used a 3D software (CATIA ) on the fuel cell design and utilized the rapid prototyping to accelerate the prototype development of complex stack designs and to verify the practicability of the new fabrication for fuel cells. The honeycomb shape methanol reservoir and cathode structure design of a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) and the complex flow distributor design of a monopolar air-breathing proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stack, which were almost impossibly manufactured by traditional manufacturing, were made in this study. The performance of the traditional air-pumping DMFC and that of an air-breathing DMFC were compared in this study. The feasibility of a complex pseudobipolar design DMFC stack was also verified. For the miniature air-breathing PEMFC made by rapid prototyping with ABS material, its performance is close to the state-of-the-art compared to previous published literatures (Hsieh2006, “Study of Operational Parameters on the Performance of Micro PEMFCs With Different Flow Fields,” Energy Convers. Manage., 47, pp. 1868–1878; Schmitz, A., Wagner, S., Hahn, R., Uzun, H., and Hebling, C., 2004, “Stability of Planar PEMFC in Printed Circuit Board Technology,” J. Power Sources, 127, pp. 197–205; Hottinen, T., Mikkola, M., and Lund, P., 2004, “Evaluation of Planar Free-Breathing Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Design,” J. Power Sources, 129, pp. 68–72). A new solution to manufacture complex fuel cell design, rapid prototyping, has been first applied to the fabrication of complicated flow channels in ABS materials and directly used in both DMFC and PEMFC in this paper. Its feasibility was verified and its promising performance was also proved.

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Figures

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Figure 1

Outline of the rapid prototyping manufactured air-breathing DMFC

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Figure 2

(a) Honeycomb flow channel plate for single air-breathing DMFC. (b) Honeycomb flow channel plate for pseudobipolar air-breathing DMFC stack (a quarter cross-sectional view).

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Figure 3

Schematic of test station (anode gas supply: hydrogen, 99.999%; purge gas supply, nitrogen; hydrogen MFC, 1000 SCCM (SCCM denotes cubic centimeter per minute at STP) max., by Brooks; air MFC, 3000 SCCM max., by Brooks; filter, 7 m, by Hoke; check valve, 6000 psi (gauge), −29∼177°C, by Hoke; humidifier, bubble-type, 2 l; BPR, 0–100 psi (gauge), −40∼74°C, by Tescom; switch power supply, 100 A, max.; electrical load, 60 A/60 A/300W, by Chroma; GPIB, GPIB–USB–B, by NI; AD/DA, PCI-6024E, by NI; connection block, CB-68-LP, by NI; software, LABVIEW )

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Figure 4

Performance comparison of the air-breathing RP DMFC and the air-pumping graphite DMFC (hydrophobic property: 50%; cell: 55°C; methanol concentration: 2M; air flow rate: 200 ml/min.)

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Figure 5

The photo of rapid prototyping technology manufactured air-breathing pseudobipolar DMFC stack

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Figure 6

Effect of methanol concentration on the pseudobipolar DMFC stack. (50 wt. % PTFE hydrophobic GDL, cell temp.: 25°C; CH3OH solution flow rate: 0 ml/min)

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Figure 7

The I-V and I-W curves of a serial-connected fuel cell at 25°C

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