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Technical Brief

A Simplified Test Station for Alkaline Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
B. Aremo

Centre for Energy Research and Development,
Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife 220005, Nigeria
e-mail: bolaji_aremo@yahoo.co

M. O. Adeoye

Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife 220005, Nigeria
e-mail: madeoye@oauife.edu.ng

I. B. Obioh

Centre for Energy Research and Development,
Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile-Ife 220005, Nigeria
e-mail: iobioh@yahoo.com

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received March 1, 2013; final manuscript received December 15, 2014; published online January 21, 2015. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(2), 024501 (Apr 01, 2015) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-13-1025; doi: 10.1115/1.4029421 History: Received March 01, 2013; Revised December 15, 2014; Online January 21, 2015

For most of the last four decades, the alkaline fuel cell (AFC) has been largely overlooked in favor of the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) and the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). However, the persistently high costs and complexities of the PEMFC and the SOFC have led to renewed interest in the AFC in recent times. This work reports the designs of custom test fixtures and electronics instrumentation relevant for AFC electrode testing and system optimization. Features implemented in the designs include a real-time voltage measurement unit (VMU), electronic load circuit, and electrolyte heater system. Validation experiments indicated a close agreement between the VMU’s readings, Nernst equation predictions, and readings from a digital voltmeter. The electrolyte heater system’s temperature measurement module was validated with its ability to replicate a cooling profile of ethanol similar to that obtained from a mercury-in-glass thermometer. Materials selection, design considerations, and fabrication steps for other test station components, such as the button-cell test apparatus and the half-cylinder electrolyte heater, were presented. The test station was used for polarization studies of aluminum-air AFC under different conditions of potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte temperature and concentration. The studies revealed optimum values of electrolyte temperature and concentration for the AFC electrode to be 70 °C and 4 M KOH, respectively.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

A schematic representation of the AFC test station

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Fig. 2

Exploded/cut-through view of the design of the button-cell apparatus

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Fig. 3

Exploded assembly of the half-cylinder heater

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Fig. 4

The fabricated the half-cylinder heater

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Fig. 5

Circuit diagram of the cell voltage measurement and heater control unit

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Fig. 6

Circuit diagram of the electronic load

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Fig. 7

Conceptual design of the instrumentation box

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Fig. 8

Plot of calibration-cell potential versus concentration of CuSO4(aq)

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Fig. 9

Temperature–time plots recorded by the mercury-in-glass thermometer and the calibrated LM35 sensor probe

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Fig. 10

Polarization curves of the AFC GDE between 50 and 90 °C

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Fig. 11

Polarization curves showing the effect of electrolyte concentrations of 1–5 M KOH on the AFC GDE

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