Continous Operation of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Regenerative Fuel Cell System for Energy Storage

[+] Author and Article Information
Bei-jiann Chang, Christopher P. Garcia, Donald W. Johnson, David J. Bents, Vincent J. Scullin, Ian J. Jakupca

National Aeronautics and Space Administration,  QSS Group, Inc., 21000 Brookpark Rd., Cleveland, OH 44135

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 4(4), 497-500 (May 03, 2006) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2756848 History: Received November 14, 2005; Revised May 03, 2006

NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) has recently demonstrated a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) based regenerative fuel cell system (RFCS) that operated for five contiguous back-to-back 24h charge/discharge cycles over a period of 120h. The system operated continuously at full rated power with no significant reactant loss, breakdowns, or degradations from June 26 through July 1, 2005. It demonstrated a closed-loop solar energy storage system over repeated day/night cycles that absorbed solar electrical power profiles of 015kWe and stored the energy as pressurized hydrogen and oxygen gas in charge mode, then delivered steady 4.55kWe electrical power with product water during discharge mode. Fuel cell efficiency, electrolyzer efficiency, as well as system round-trip efficiency were determined. Individual cell performance and the spread of cell voltages within the electrochemical stacks were documented. The amount of waste heat dissipated from the RFCS was also reported. The RFCS demonstrated fully closed-cycle operation without venting or purging, thereby conserving reactant masses involved in the electrochemical processes. Smooth transitions between the fuel cell mode and electrolyzer mode were repeatedly accomplished. The RFCS is applicable to NASA’s lunar and planetary surface solar power needs, providing lightweight energy storage for any multikilowatt-electrical application, where an environmentally sealed system is required.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

PEM regenerative fuel cell system breadboard at GRC

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Figure 2

Input and output power of RFCS versus time

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Figure 3

Fuel cell and electrolyzer stack current and voltage versus time

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Figure 4

Fuel cell and electrolyzer maximum and minimum cell voltage

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Figure 5

Fuel cell individual cell performance at 100A, 65psig, and 135degF

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Figure 6

Electrolyzer individual cell performance at 150A, 245psig, and 140degF

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Figure 7

RFCS gas and water material balance

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Figure 8

Fuel cell thermal control performance in fifth cycle

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Figure 9

Electrolyzer thermal control performance in fifth cycle



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