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Research Papers

Performance Investigation of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells Using Graphite Composite Plates Fabricated by Selective Laser Sintering

[+] Author and Article Information
Nannan Guo

e-mail: ngzn6@mail.mst.edu

Ming C. Leu

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
Missouri University of Science and Technology,
Rolla, MO 65409

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received September 11, 2012; final manuscript received August 6, 2013; published online October 22, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Jacob Brouwer.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 11(1), 011003 (Oct 22, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: FC-12-1093; doi: 10.1115/1.4025520 History: Received September 11, 2012; Revised August 06, 2013

Selective laser sintering (SLS) was used to fabricate graphite composite plates for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, which has the advantages of reducing time and cost associated with the research and development of bipolar plates. Graphite composite plates with three different designs, i.e., parallel in series, interdigitated, and bio-inspired, were fabricated using the SLS process. The performance of these SLS fabricated plates was studied experimentally within a fuel cell assembly under various operating conditions. The effect of temperature, relative humidity, and pressure on fuel cell performance was investigated. In the tests conducted in this study, the best fuel cell performance was achieved with a temperature of 65–75°C, relative humidity of 100%, and back pressure of 2 atm. The performance of fuel cell operating over an extended time was also studied, with the result showing that the SLS fabricated graphite composite plates provided a relatively steady fuel cell output power.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Fabrication process of selective laser sintering

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Fig. 2

Different flow field designs: (a) parallel in series design, (b) interdigitated design, (c) bio-inspired design. The dark portion was the flow channels.

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Fig. 3

Graphite composite plates fabricated using the SLS process: (a) parallel in series design, (b) interdigitated design, (c) bio-inspired design

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Fig. 4

(a) Major components in a PEM fuel cell; (b) actual fuel cell assembly used in the study

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Fig. 5

Effect of temperature on fuel cell performance. The relative humidity was kept at 100%, and back pressure at 0 atm. (a) Parallel in series design, (b) interdigitated design and (c) bio-inspired design.

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Fig. 6

Effect of relative humidity on fuel cell performance. Temperature was maintained at 75 °C and back pressure at 0 atm. (a) Parallel in series design, (b) interdigitated design and (c) bio-inspired design.

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Fig. 7

Effect of back pressure on fuel cell performance. Temperature was maintained at 75 °C and relative humidity at 100%. (a) Parallel in series design, (b) interdigitated design and (c) bio-inspired design.

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Fig. 8

Comparison of fuel cell performance of parallel in series, interdigitated and bio-inspired designs at (a) and (b) ambient pressure and (c) and (d) back pressure of 2 atm. Temperature was 75 °C and humidity was 100%.

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Fig. 9

(a) Six-hour performance of the PEM fuel cell using the SLS fabricated graphite composite plates with the parallel in series design in Fig. 2(a); (b) detailed performance from the 170th min to the 179th min

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