Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks at CNR-ITAE: State of the Art

[+] Author and Article Information
G. Squadrito, O. Barbera, G. Giacoppo, E. Passalacqua

 CNR-ITAE, Via Salita S. Lucia sopra Contesse, 98126 Messina, Italy

F. Urbani1

 CNR-ITAE, Via Salita S. Lucia sopra Contesse, 98126 Messina, Italyurbani@itae.cnr.it


Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 4(3), 350-356 (Apr 20, 2006) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2756567 History: Received November 30, 2005; Revised April 20, 2006

Fuel cell technology development is one of the main activities at CNR-TAE Institute. Particular attention was devoted to polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), which are the most probable candidates as future energy suppliers for transportation and for portable and domestic applications. The research activity was addressed to new materials and component evolution, system design, and modeling. Because a single cell is not able to supply the desired voltages also for small electronic devices, a PEFC stack of different sizes must be evolved to match the application request. The research activity focused on two different areas: small size stacks for portable applications and medium power stacks (14kW) for transport and stationary applications. This activity was supported by modeling and computational fluid dynamic studies, and by the evolution of dedicated test station and measurement devices. The first result of PEFC stack research was the development of a 100W stack prototype working at low pressure and based on low Pt loading electrodes evolved at CNR-ITAE. Starting from this experience, a hydrogen fueled air breathing stack of 15W for portable application was realized. The scale up of the cell active area was approached by searching for a method to allow the design of the flow field with specified geometrical characteristics and fluid dynamic properties to maintain the performance reached in small active area cells. A computer-aided design method was evolved, and the design of the 200cm2 active area cell was realized, starting, from a 50cm2 laboratory cell.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 5

Frontal view of the air-breathing stack under test: 10×25cm2 cells, nine bipolar, and two terminal graphite plates. The total weight of the stack is 820g, where more than 50% of weight come from the aluminium compression plates, the copper current collector, and the steel bolts.

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Figure 6

Performance obtained in a typical time test session at 1.5A load and room temperature, without cooling fan

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Figure 7

Voltage and power density versus current density recorded at 25°C

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Figure 8

Flow-field selection algorithm for CFD

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Figure 1

Frontal view of the last stack version: 10×49cm2 cells, nine bipolar, and two terminal graphite plates, copper current collectors, and aluminium compression plates, for a total weight of 3700g

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Figure 2

Performance obtained in a typical time test at 20A load, stoichiometric ratio 1.5/5.5 for H2/air, pressure of 1.5abs bar, and 80°C

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Figure 3

Comparison of cell voltage profile measured in different test conditions. On the right side, the average of cell voltages (MEAN) and the difference between max and min (MAX-MIN) of cell voltages for each test are reported.

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Figure 4

Polarization curves and power density on ten cells stack obtained using two different airflows

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Figure 9

Possible serpentine flow-field typologies: (a) simple serpentine, (b)n-ribbed-serpentine, and (c)n-multiple serpentine



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