Operation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells with dry feeds: Design and operating strategies

Warren H.J. Hogarth, Jay Burton Benziger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

The operation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) with dry feeds has been examined with different fuel cell flow channel designs as functions of pressure, temperature and flow rate. Auto-humidified (or self-humidifying) PEMFC operation is improved at higher pressures and low gas velocities where axial dispersion enhances "back-mixing" of the product water with the dry feed. We demonstrate auto-humidified operation of the channel-less, self-draining fuel cell, based on a stirred tank reactor; data is presented showing auto-humidified operation from 25 to 115 °C at 1 and 3 atm. Design and operating requirements are derived for the auto-humidified operation of the channel-less, self-draining fuel cell. The auto-humidified self-draining fuel cell outperforms a fully humidified serpentine flow channel fuel cell at high current densities. The new design offers substantial benefits for simplicity of operation and control including: the ability to self-drain reducing flooding, the ability to uniformly disperse water removing current gradients and the ability to operate on dry feeds eliminating the need for humidifiers. Additionally, the design lends itself well to a modular design concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-978
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Volume159
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 22 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Keywords

  • Auto-humidification
  • Flow channel
  • PEM fuel cell
  • Stirred tank reactor (STR)
  • Water management

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