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Assignment on Fuel Cell - Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)

Submitted to: G.S Dang

Submitted by: Akhil Krishnan (R080210001) Anand Haridas (R080210005) Nithin .N (R080210021) Rosh Saji George (R080210025) Vinoy Thomas Rajan (R080210030) M tech HSE

FUEL CELLS: A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied. Welsh Physicist William Grove developed the first crude fuel cells in 1839. The first commercial use of fuel cells was in NASA space programs to generate power for probes, satellites and space capsules. Since then, fuel cells have been used in many other applications. Fuel cells are used for primary and backup power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or inaccessible areas. They are used to power fuel cell vehicles, including automobiles, buses, forklifts, airplanes, boats, motorcycles and submarines. There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode (negative side), a cathode (positive side) and an electrolyte that allows charges to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. Electrons are drawn from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing direct current electricity. As the main difference among fuel cell types is the electrolyte, fuel cells are classified by the type of electrolyte they use. Fuel cells come in a variety of sizes. Individual fuel cells produce very small amounts of electricity, about 0.7 volts, so cells are "stacked", or placed in series or parallel circuits, to increase the voltage and current output to meet an applications power generation requirements.[2] In addition to electricity, fuel cells produce water, heat and, depending on the fuel source, very small amounts of nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40-60%, or up to 85% efficient if waste heat is captured for use. TYPES OF FUEL CELLS: The various types of fuel cells are: 1. Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) 2. Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC)

3. Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC) 4. Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC) 5. Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC) 6. Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Let us discuss in detail about the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC). PROTON EXCHANGE MEMBRANE FUEL CELL (PEMFC): The proton exchange membrane fuel cell or the polymer exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is one of the most promising fuel cell technologies. This type of fuel cell will probably end up powering cars, buses and maybe even your house. The PEMFC uses one of the simplest reactions of any fuel cell. First, let's take a look at what's in a PEM fuel cell: In Figure 1 you can see there are four basic elements of a PEMFC:

Figure 1.

The anode, the negative post of the fuel cell, has several jobs. It conducts the electrons that are freed from the hydrogen molecules so that they can be used in an external circuit. It has channels etched into it that disperse the hydrogen gas equally over the surface of the catalyst.

The cathode, the positive post of the fuel cell, has channels etched into it that distribute the oxygen to the surface of the catalyst. It also conducts the electrons back from the external circuit to the catalyst, where they can recombine with the hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water.

The electrolyte is the proton exchange membrane. This specially treated material, which looks something like ordinary kitchen plastic wrap, only conducts positively charged ions. The membrane blocks electrons. For a PEMFC, the membrane must be hydrated in order to function and remain stable.

The catalyst is a special material that facilitates the reaction of oxygen and hydrogen. It is usually made of platinum nano particles very thinly coated onto carbon paper or cloth. The catalyst is rough and porous so that the maximum surface area of the platinum can be exposed to the hydrogen or oxygen. The platinum-coated side of the catalyst faces the PEM.

THE WORKING PRINCIPLE: The pressurized hydrogen gas (H2) entering the fuel cell on the anode side. This gas is forced through the catalyst by the pressure. When an H2 molecule comes in contact with the platinum on the catalyst, it splits into two H+ ions and two electrons (e-). The electrons are conducted through the anode, where they make their way through the external circuit (doing useful work such as turning a motor) and return to the cathode side of the fuel cell. Meanwhile, on the cathode side of the fuel cell, oxygen gas (O2) is being forced through the catalyst, where it forms two oxygen atoms. Each of these atoms has a strong negative charge. This negative charge attracts the two H+ ions through the membrane, where they combine with an oxygen atom and two of the electrons from the external circuit to form a water molecule (H2O).

This reaction in a single fuel cell produces only about 0.7 volts. To get this voltage up to a reasonable level, many separate fuel cells must be combined to form a fuel-cell stack. Bipolar plates are used to connect one fuel cell to another and are subjected to both oxidizing and reducing conditions and potentials. A big issue with bipolar plates is stability. Metallic bipolar plates can corrode, and the byproducts of corrosion (iron and chromium ions) can decrease the effectiveness of fuel cell membranes and electrodes. Low-temperature fuel cells use lightweight metals, graphite and carbon/thermoset composites (thermoset is a kind of plastic that remains rigid even when subjected to high temperatures) as bipolar plate material. APPLICATIONS: 1. Backup power

Consumer electronics can gain drastically longer battery power with Fuel Cell technology. Cell phones can be powered for 30 days without recharging. Laptops can be powered for 20 hours without recharging.

2. Portable Power 3. Distributed Generation 4. Transportation All major automakers are working to commercialize a fuel cell car Automakers and experts speculate that a fuel cell vehicle will be commercialized in future Trains, planes, boats, scooters, forklifts and even bicycles are utilizing fuel cell technology as well 5. Specialty Vehicles LIMITATIONS: A significant barrier to using these fuel cells in vehicles is hydrogen storage. Most fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) powered by pure hydrogen must store the hydrogen on-board as a compressed gas

in pressurized tanks. Due to the low-energy density of hydrogen, it is difficult to store enough hydrogen on-board to allow vehicles to travel the same distance as gasoline-powered vehicles before refueling, typically 300400 miles. Higher-density liquid fuels, such as methanol, ethanol, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and gasoline, can be used for fuel, but the vehicles must have an on-board fuel processor to reform the methanol to hydrogen. This requirement increases costs and maintenance. The reformer also releases carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), though less than that emitted from current gasoline-powered engines. Fuel cells might be the answer to our power problems, but first scientists will have to sort out a few major issues: 1. Cost Chief among the problems associated with fuel cells is how expensive they are. Many of the component pieces of a fuel cell are costly. For PEMFC systems, proton exchange membranes, precious metal catalysts (usually platinum), gas diffusion layers, and bipolar plates make up 70 percent of a system's cost [Source: Basic Research Needs for a Hydrogen Economy]. In order to be competitively priced (compared to gasoline-powered vehicles), fuel cell systems must cost $35 per kilowatt. Currently, the projected high-volume production price is $73 per kilowatt [Source: Garland]. In particular, researchers must either decrease the amount of platinum needed to act as a catalyst or find an alternative. 2. Durability Researchers must develop PEMFC membranes that are durable and can operate at temperatures greater than 100 degrees Celsius and still function at sub-zero ambient temperatures. A 100 degrees Celsius temperature target is required in order for a fuel cell to have a higher tolerance to impurities in fuel. Because you start and stop a car relatively frequently, it is important for the membrane to remain stable under cycling conditions. Currently membranes tend to degrade while fuel cells cycle on and off, particularly as operating temperatures rise. 3. Hydration Because PEMFC membranes must by hydrated in order to transfer hydrogen protons, researches must find a way to develop fuel cell systems that can continue to operate in sub-zero temperatures,

low humidity environments and high operating temperatures. At around 80 degrees Celsius, hydration is lost without a high-pressure hydration system.

4. Delivery The Department of Energys Technical Plan for Fuel Cells states that the air compressor technologies currently available are not suitable for vehicle use, which makes designing a hydrogen fuel delivery system problematic. 5. Infrastructure In order for PEMFC vehicles to become a viable alternative for consumers, there must be a hydrogen generation and delivery infrastructure. This infrastructure might include pipelines, truck transport, fueling stations and hydrogen generation plants. The DOE hopes that development of a marketable vehicle model will drive the development of an infrastructure to support it. 6. Storage and Other Considerations Three hundred miles is a conventional driving range (the distance you can drive in a car with a full tank of gas). In order to create a comparable result with a fuel cell vehicle, researchers must overcome hydrogen storage considerations, vehicle weight and volume, cost, and safety. While PEMFC systems have become lighter and smaller as improvements are made, they still are too large and heavy for use in standard vehicles. There is also safety concerns related to fuel cell use. Legislators will have to create new processes for first responders to follow when they must handle an incident involving a fuel cell vehicle or generator. Engineers will have to design safe, reliable hydrogen delivery systems. 7. Air, Thermal, and Water Management. Air management for fuel cell systems is a challenge because today's compressor technologies are not suitable for automotive fuel cell applications. In addition, thermal and water management for fuel cells are issues because the small difference between the operating and ambient temperatures necessitates large heat exchangers.

8. Improved Heat Recovery Systems. The low operating temperature of PEM fuel cells limits the amount of heat that can be effectively utilized in combined heat and power (CHP) applications. Technologies need to be developed that will allow higher operating temperatures and/or more-effective heat recovery systems and improved system designs that will enable CHP efficiencies exceeding 80%. Technologies that allow cooling to be provided from the low heat rejected from stationary fuel cell systems (such as through regenerating dessiccants in a desiccant cooling cycle) also need to be evaluated. ADVANCEMENTS: Toyota Debuts New Fuel Cell Vehicle. Toyota unveiled its latest fuel cell vehicle, the FCV-R Concept, at the Tokyo Motor Show. This new mid-sized sedan concept has an updated, unique design and can accommodate up to four passengers with plenty of luggage space. The fuel cell stack, consisting of a 70 megapascal (MPa) high-pressure hydrogen tank, has been improved to provide a range of approximately 700 km (430 miles) or more. RMIT Researchers Develop Model Fuel Cell Truck. RMIT University researchers have developed Australia's first hydrogen fuel cell truck, albeit a small-scale model. The model is an exact replica of the Scania Highline series and is operated by remote control to simulate the performance of a long-haul diesel truck, typically used between Melbourne and Sydney. Proton Motor Sells First Two Fuel Cells. Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH has sold its first two fuel cell units to customers in Germany and Italy. The 19-inch rack mounted fuel cell system can produce up to 5 kW of electricity and fits into an industrial housing cabinet. National Energy Technology Laboratory. New Electronic Technology Advances Fuel Cell Development. The technology converts direct current (DC) voltage into alternating current (AC) with appreciable gains in efficiency. According to the researchers, a 1% increase in efficiency can cut costs by $5-$10 per kilowatt. Such efficiency gains would eliminate large, expensive additional converters and/or capacitors, thereby reducing fuel cell system size and costs.

Fuel Cell Propulsion System Development General Motors (GM) completed a three-year effort in 1993, which demonstrated proof-of-feasibility for methanol-fueled, proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cells as an electrochemical engine for transportation applications. SUMMARY: Conventional fuels currently meeting the energy needs of the world but cause environmental pollution ; Coal & Petroleum and other non-renewable resources. Cleaner technologies are being developed to make these fuels environment friendly. Fuel cells are unique in terms of the variety of their potential applications; they can provide energy for systems as large as a utility power station and as small as a laptop computer. Fuel cells have several benefits over conventional combustion-based technologies currently used in many power plants and passenger vehicles. They emit no emissions at the point of operation, including greenhouse gases and air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems. Most of research now a days focuses on advancing polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems with emphasis in areas such as fuel processing (reforming) technologies, improved catalyst and membrane designs, and improved air, thermal, and water-management systems.