Research Papers

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell High Carbon Monoxide Tolerance Operation Using Pulsed Heating and Pressure Swing

[+] Author and Article Information
S. M. Guo, A. B. Hasan

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(1), 011022 (Nov 26, 2008) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2972163 History: Received June 15, 2007; Revised October 08, 2007; Published November 26, 2008

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are attractive power plants for use in many applications, including portable power sources, electric vehicles, and on-site combined power/heat plants. Despite the advantages, one of the significant obstacles to PEMFC commercialization is the low tolerance to carbon monoxide (CO). Ideally, PEMFCs should use pure hydrogen fuel. However, because of the difficulties inherent in storing hydrogen onboard, there is an increasing interest in using hydrogen-rich gases produced by reforming hydrocarbon fuels. Fuel reformer produces hydrogen containing a small amount of CO. PEMFC performance degrades when CO is present in the fuel gas, referred to as CO poisoning. This paper presents the results of a novel PEMFC performance study using a pulsed heating device and the feeding channel pressure swing method to mitigate the CO poisoning problem. The effectiveness of these strategies is demonstrated through simulation and experimental work on a single cell. By applying a transient localized heating to the catalyst layer while maintaining the PEMFC membrane at a normal temperature (below 80°C) and by using the feeding channel pressure swing, significant enhancement in the carbon monoxide tolerance level of PEMFCs was found. These approaches could potentially eliminate the need for an expensive selective oxidizer. The CO poisoning process is generally slow and reversible. After applying pulsed heating, the transient high temperature in the catalyst layer could help the recovery of the PEMFC from CO poisoning. By using feeding channel pressure swing, oxygen can easily diffuse into the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) from the outlet port and promote a quick recovery. Using these operational strategies, a PEMFC could operate continually using a high CO concentration fuel.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 7

The test PEMFC with a mesh heater

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Figure 8

Power density versus current density curve using pure hydrogen

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Figure 9

Voltage versus current density curve using pure hydrogen

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Figure 10

Performance of PEMFC using 100ppm and 1000ppm CO concentration H2 under fuel flow rates of 20SCCM and 40SCCM

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Figure 11

PEMFC poisoning and recovery due to pulsed heating (three pulses at ∼80s, 128s, and 152s)

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Figure 12

PEMFC poisoning and recovery due to pulsed feeding

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Figure 13

PEMFC poisoning and recovery due to pulsed feeding

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Figure 2

Air bleeding effect on PEMFC CO poisoning (left) and recovery (right) processes (9), 3000ppm CO at a 61.8μmol dose

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Figure 3

Normalized PEMFC (iCO–H2∕iH2) performance at different temperatures based on Ref. 12

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Figure 4

The design concept of the embedded heating device

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Figure 5

BOPP stainless mesh and the schematic test setup

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Figure 6

The membrane and catalyst temperature increase at 10ms under a 2×106W∕m2 heating pulse



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