Polimeric Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells: Characterization Test Under Variable Temperature and Relative Humidity Conditions

[+] Author and Article Information
Fabio Rinaldi, Renzo Marchesi

Dipartimento di Energetica, Politecnico di Milano, Milan 20133, Italy

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 4(3), 231-237 (May 26, 2006) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2713786 History: Received November 28, 2005; Revised May 26, 2006

The aim of this work is the performance study of a polimeric electrolyte membrane stack. Extreme conditions of temperature and relative humidity, such as those that may be found in practical situations (i.e., automotive), have been considered. The research has been developed by Department of Energetics of Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with Nuvera Fuel Cells Europe, under confidential agreement. In order to select the proper electrolyte that can be used to build a stack suitable for automotive applications, three different types of material have been tested in single fuel cells, under different conditions of temperature and relative humidity by mean of a climatic chamber. Both traditional (Nafion®) and new materials have been tested in single cells of 16cm2 of active area. The three electrolyte materials have been tested also by measuring the protonic conductance, in different conditions of relative humidity. After these tests, an electrolyte has been chosen that was made with a coated catalyst membrane having a thickness of 35μm, which has been used to build a six-cell stack with an active area of 500cm2. The performances of the stack have been evaluated, in continuous operation, with air temperatures ranging from 50°C to 40°C. A series of start-up tests has been carried out with an air temperature ranging between 0°C and 25°C.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Energetic performances after cycle at T=70°C and RH=100%

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Figure 2

Energetic performances after cycle at T=70°C and RH=50%

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Figure 3

Energetic performances after cycle at T=70°C and RH=0%

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Figure 4

Energetic performances after cycle 4: temperature variable from 80°C to −40°C

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Figure 5

Conductance comparison of the three membranes tested

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Figure 6

Schematic layout of equipment used to test the stack at low temperature

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Figure 7

Experimental stack setup

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Figure 8

Polarization characteristics measured at the end of each starting

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Figure 9

Stack voltage measured at the constant temperature of −5°C

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Figure 10

Stack voltage versus air temperature decreasing to −40°C

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Figure 11

Internal resistance calculated values of the stack before and after experimentation at low temperatures



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