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J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor.. 2019;16(4):041001-041001-9. doi:10.1115/1.4042923.

The chlor-alkali industry produces significant amounts of hydrogen as by-product which can potentially feed a polymeric electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell (FC) unit, whose electricity and heat production can cover part of the chemical plant consumptions yielding remarkable energy and emission savings. This work presents the modeling, development, and experimental results of a large-scale (2 MW) PEM fuel cell power plant installed at the premises of a chlor-alkali industry. It is first discussed an overview of project’s membrane-electrode assembly and fuel cell development for long life stationary applications, focusing on the design-for-manufacture process and related high-volume manufacturing routes. The work then discusses the modeling of the power plant, including a specific lumped model predicting FC stack behavior as a function of inlet stream conditions and power set point, according to regressed polarization curves. Cells’ performance decay versus lifetime reflects long-term stack test data, aiming to evidence the impact on overall energy balances and efficiency of the progression of lifetime. Balance of plant is modeled to simulate auxiliary consumptions, pressure drops, and components’ operating conditions. The model allows studying different operational strategies that maintain the power production during lifetime, minimizing efficiency losses, as well as to investigate the optimized operating setpoint of the plant at full load and during part-load operation. The last section of the paper discusses the experimental results, through a complete analysis of the plant performance after startup, including energy and mass balances and allowing to validate the model. Cumulated indicators over the first two years of operations regarding energy production, hydrogen consumption, and efficiency are also discussed.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor.. 2019;16(4):041002-041002-8. doi:10.1115/1.4042922.

Electric vehicles have become a trend in recent years, and the lithium-ion battery pack provides them with high power and energy. The battery thermal system with air cooling was always used to prevent the high temperature of the battery pack to avoid cycle life reduction and safety issues of lithium-ion batteries. This work employed an easily applied optimization method to design a more efficient battery pack with lower temperature and more uniform temperature distribution. The proposed method consisted of four steps: the air-cooling system design, computational fluid dynamics code setups, selection of surrogate models, and optimization of the battery pack. The investigated battery pack contained eight prismatic cells, and the cells were discharged under normal driving conditions. It was shown that the optimized design performs a lower maximum temperature of 2.7 K reduction and a smaller temperature standard deviation of 0.3 K reduction than the original design. This methodology can also be implemented in industries where the battery pack contains more battery cells.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor.. 2019;16(4):041003-041003-7. doi:10.1115/1.4042986.

Multilayer nickel–copper coatings consisting of layers of nickel–copper alloy and a mixture of metals with hydroxides were obtained by electrodeposition from polyligand pyrophosphate–ammonia electrolyte by the two-pulse potentiostatic method. A comparison between two different electrodes with the same real surface area is presented. The equality of the surface area of electrodes deposited from the electrolyte containing different copper and nickel ions’ concentration ratio was achieved by deposition of different numbers of layers. It is shown that the increase in the copper content in electrolyte leads to an increase in the copper ions’ content in the coating and the electrode surface develops more intensively. Freshly deposited coatings have approximately the same catalytic activity in the glucose oxidation reaction in the alkaline solution. But a multilayer coating with a higher copper content is more corrosion resistant and more stable in long-term electrolysis.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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