Research Papers

Experimental Analysis of a Small-Scale Flowing Electrolyte–Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Stack

[+] Author and Article Information
Yashar Kablou

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
Carleton University,
1125 Colonel By Drive,
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
e-mail: yashar_kablou@carleton.ca

Cynthia A. Cruickshank

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
Carleton University,
1125 Colonel By Drive,
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
e-mail: ccruicks@mae.carleton.ca

Edgar Matida

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
Carleton University,
1125 Colonel By Drive,
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
e-mail: edgar.matida@mae.carleton.ca

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received March 24, 2014; final manuscript received July 31, 2015; published online September 7, 2015. Editor: Wilson K. S. Chiu.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(4), 041007 (Sep 07, 2015) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1033; doi: 10.1115/1.4031423 History: Received March 24, 2014; Revised July 31, 2015

A small-scale five-cell flowing electrolyte–direct methanol fuel cell (FE-DMFC) stack with U-type manifold configuration and parallel serpentine flow bed design was studied experimentally. The active area of a single cell was approximately 25 cm2. For every stack cell, diluted sulphuric acid was used as the flowing electrolyte (FE) which was circulated through a porous medium placed between two Nafion® 115 polymer electrolyte membranes. The stack performance was studied over a range of several operating conditions, such as temperature (50–80 °C), FE flow rate (0–17.5 ml/min), methanol concentration (0.5–4.0 M), and methanol solution flow rate (10–20 ml/min). In addition, the stack cell to cell voltage variations and the effects of the FE stream interruption on the output voltage were investigated at various operating loads. Experimental results showed that utilization of the FE effectively reduced methanol crossover and improved the stack power output. It was found that increasing the FE flow rate enhanced the stack capability to operate at higher inlet methanol concentrations without any degradation to the performance. The results also demonstrated that the stack power output can be directly controlled by regulating the FE stream especially at high operating currents.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of a two-cell FE-DMFC stack

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Fig. 2

Two types of parallel manifold configurations

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Fig. 4

(a) Half-cell assembly and (b) full stack assembly

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Fig. 5

Schematic of the experimental setup

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Fig. 6

Stack polarization/power curve variations with temperature

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Fig. 7

Stack polarization/power curve variations with FE flow rate

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Fig. 8

Effects of FE flow rate and methanol concentration on stack maximum power density

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Fig. 9

Stack polarization/power curve variations with methanol concentration

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Fig. 10

Stack polarization/power curve variations with methanol solution flow rate

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Fig. 11

Stack voltage distributions at various operating currents

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Fig. 12

Effects of FE flow interruption on stack performance at various operating currents



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