Research Papers

Design and Experimental Characterization of a High-Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack

[+] Author and Article Information
Robert Radu, Nicola Zuliani

Rodolfo Taccani1

 Università degli Studi di Trieste, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica, Via Valerio 10, Trieste, 34127 Italytaccani@units.it


Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 8(5), 051007 (Jun 16, 2011) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003753 History: Received March 17, 2010; Revised November 23, 2010; Published June 16, 2011; Online June 16, 2011

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells based on polybenzimidazole (PBI) polymers and phosphoric acid can be operated at temperature between 120 °C and 180 °C. Reactant humidification is not required and CO content up to 1% in the fuel can be tolerated, only marginally affecting performance. This is what makes high-temperature PEM (HTPEM) fuel cells very attractive, as low quality reformed hydrogen can be used and water management problems are avoided. From an experimental point of view, the major research effort up to now was dedicated to the development and study of high-temperature membranes, especially to development of acid-doped PBI type membranes. Some studies were dedicated to the experimental analysis of single cells and only very few to the development and characterization of high-temperature stacks. This work aims to provide more experimental data regarding high-temperature fuel cell stacks, operated with hydrogen but also with different types of reformates. The main design features and the performance curves obtained with a three-cell air-cooled stack are presented. The stack was tested on a broad temperature range, between 120 and 180 °C, with pure hydrogen and gas mixtures containing up to 2% of CO, simulating the output of a typical methanol reformer. With pure hydrogen, at 180 °C, the considered stack is able to deliver electrical power of 31 W at 1.8 V. With a mixture containing 2% of carbon monoxide, in the same conditions, the performance drops to 24 W. The tests demonstrated that the performance loss caused by operation with reformates, can be partially compensated by a higher stack temperature.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

High-temperature PEM stack top view. The stack contains three air-cooled cells.

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Figure 2

Schematic representation of the test bed (1: air filter, 2: air compressor, 3: flowmeter, 4: pressure transmitter, 5: pressure gauge, 6: valve, 7: solenoid valve, 8: hydrogen cylinder, 9: pressure regulator, 10: nitrogen cylinder, 11: thermocouple, 12: electronic load)

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Figure 3

Stack performance with pure hydrogen, at different operating temperatures. Anode stoichiometry 1.5, cathode stoichiometry 3.0.

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Figure 4

Stack performance comparison at 160 °C. Stack #0: built by authors, Stack #1: literature [16]. Fuel: pure hydrogen.

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Figure 5

Stack performance assessment at 180 °C. Stack #0: built by authors, Stack #2: literature [17z]. Fuel: pure hydrogen.

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Figure 6

Stack performance for a CO concentration of 0.5%, at different operating temperatures

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Figure 7

Stack performance for a CO concentration of 2.0%, at different operating temperatures

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Figure 8

Influence of CO concentration and operating temperature on the stack current at cell voltage of 0.6 V

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Figure 9

Comparison between the Stack #0 average cell polarization curve and the MEA manufacturer data (MMD), mixture M #2, 160 °C

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Figure 10

Polarization curves at 140 °C with pure hydrogen

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Figure 11

Voltage nonuniformity dependence on current density and operating temperature

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Figure 12

Temperature and CO concentration effects on voltage nonuniformity at 420 mA/cm2



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