Performance of a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell System Fueled With Hydrogen Generated by a Fuel Processor

[+] Author and Article Information
E. Jannelli

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Cassino, Via G. Di Biasio 43, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italyjannelli@unicas.it

M. Minutillo

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Cassino, Via G. Di Biasio 43, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italyminutillo@unicas.it

E. Galloni

Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Cassino, Via G. Di Biasio 43, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italygalloni@unicas.it

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 4(4), 435-440 (Apr 19, 2006) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2756568 History: Received November 30, 2005; Revised April 19, 2006

Fuel cells, which have seen remarkable progress in the last decade, are being developed for transportation, as well as for both stationary and portable power generation. For residential applications, the fuel cells with the largest market segment are the proton exchange membrane fuel cells, which are suitable for small utilities since they offer many advantages: high power density, small footprint, low operating temperature, fast start-up and shutdown, low emissions, and quiet operation. On the other hand, polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells require high purity hydrogen as fuel. Currently, the infrastructure for the distribution of hydrogen is almost nonexistent. In order to use PEM fuel cell technology on a large scale, it is necessary to feed them with conventional fuel such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline or methanol to generate hydrogen in situ. This study aims to predict the performance of a PEM fuel cell integrated with a hydrogen generator based on steam reforming process. This integrated power unit will be able to provide clean, continuous power for on-site residential or light commercial applications. A precommercial natural gas fuel processor has been chosen as hydrogen generator. This fuel processor contains all the elements—desulphurizer, steam reformer, CO shift converter, CO preferential oxidation (PROX) reactor, steam generator, burner, and heat exchanger—in one package. The reforming system has been modeled with the ASPEN PLUS code. The model has a modular structure in order to allow performance analysis, component by component. Experimental investigations have been conducted to evaluate the performance of the fuel cell fed with the reformate gas, as produced by the reformer. The performance of the integrated system reformer/fuel cell has been evaluated both using the numerical results of the reformer modeling and the experimental data of the PEM fuel cell.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Reformer/fuel cell system flow sheet

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Figure 2

Voltages and temperatures at different loads

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Figure 3

Fuel cell polarization curves at different fuel cell operating temperatures (pure hydrogen feeding)

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Figure 4

PEM fuel cell polarization curves

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Figure 5

Fuel cell performance: electric power

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Figure 6

Fuel cell performance: gross electric efficiency (HHV)

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Figure 7

Fuel cell performance: net electric efficiency (HHV)

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Figure 8

Efficiency of reformer/fuel cell system (HHV)



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