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Research Papers

Development and Diagnosis of a 1-kW Self-Sustainable Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell System With a Methanol Reformer

[+] Author and Article Information
Chen-Yu Chen, Ming-Ping Lai

Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
National Cheng Kung University,
No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road,
Tainan 701, Taiwan, ROC

Sui-Wei Hsu

Celxpert Energy Corporation,
No. 128, Gong 5th Road,
Longtan Township,
Taoyuan County 325, Taiwan, ROC

Wei-Mon Yan

Research Center for Energy Technology
and Strategy,
National Cheng Kung University,
No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road,
Tainan 701, Taiwan, ROC;
Department of Greenergy,
National University of Tainan,
33, Sec. 2, Shu-Lin St.,
Tainan 700, Taiwan, ROC

Wei-Hsiang Lai

Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
National Cheng Kung University,
No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road,
Tainan 701, Taiwan, ROC;
Research Center for Energy Technology
and Strategy,
National Cheng Kung University,
No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road,
Tainan 701, Taiwan, ROC
e-mail: whlai@mail.ncku.edu.tw

Keng-Pin Huang, Chen-Cheng Yang, Chun-Chi Chen

Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
National Cheng Kung University,
No. 1, Ta-Hsueh Road,
Tainan 701, Taiwan, ROC

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology. Manuscript received February 20, 2013; final manuscript received February 26, 2013; published online May 14, 2013. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 10(3), 031007 (May 14, 2013) (9 pages) Paper No: FC-13-1023; doi: 10.1115/1.4024256 History: Received February 20, 2013; Revised February 26, 2013

A reformed methanol fuel cell system is one of the most practical of all types of fuel cell systems. It is regarded as one of the best candidates for stationary applications, such as residential power generators, uninterruptible power supply systems, power generators for cell base stations, or power generators in outlying areas. In this research, a 1-kW self-sustainable proton exchange membrane fuel cell system with a methanol reformer is designed and tested. The system performance test and in situ stack monitoring show that the system is stable and reliable. During normal operation, the maximum voltage deviation among the individual cells, which is caused by a nonuniform temperature distribution in the proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack, is 25 mV. The peak power output of the system reaches 1.4 kW. The maximum electrical efficiency is 65.2% at a system power of 1 kW. The system is operated at 1 kW for 4 h, during which the decay rate of the stack power is 0.94%. During the stability test, voltage fluctuation occurs in a certain cell because of a flooding phenomenon. A demonstration is also presented in this paper to show the system’s practicability and commercial potential.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic diagram of the reformed methanol fuel cell system

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Fig. 2

Stability test of the reformer subsystem

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Fig. 3

The output voltage and conversion efficiency of the converter at different simulating fuel cell powers

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Fig. 4

The system power output and the corresponding stack power

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Fig. 5

The voltage variation of 40 cells in the stack during the system test

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Fig. 6

Positions of 15 thermocouples

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Fig. 7

The temperature distributions in the stack under different system powers

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Fig. 8

Average values and the deviations of 15 temperatures in the stack under different system powers

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Fig. 9

The system power and stack performance in the 4-h stability test

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Fig. 10

Voltage variations of 40 cells in the stack during the 4-h stability test and highlights of cell #1, #2, #10, #20, #30, and #40

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Fig. 11

The demonstration of the RMFC system with one computer, two notebooks, one fan, one battery charger, and one air pump (total power: 1000—1100 W)

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