Simulations to consider starting a polymer electrolyte fuel cell

Innovations in hydrogen and fuel cells are receiving considerable attention as the need for a transition to sustainable energy production increases. In the review Energies, a new innovation for measuring the starting time of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell has been published.

To study: Determination assisted by simulation of the starting time of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell. Image Credit: luchschenF /

Some time must pass before a fuel cell can begin to operate and ensure a safe and extended life. Current work is analyzing the limits of the reliability and accuracy of voltage measurement to determine the safe starting point for operation with the aim of integrating modeling and experimentation.

Fuel cells generate energy

Fuel cells are classified according to the type of electrolyte used, as well as the start-up time, which can range from 1 second to 10 minutes. Batteries are a comparable technique in which fuel can be renewed by recharging. A fuel cell produces electricity by using energy stored in the form of hydrogen or any other fuel in a clean and efficient manner.

G60 test station (left) and zoom in on the single cell compression unit (right).

G60 test station (left) and zoom in on the single cell compression unit (law). Image credit: Bodner, M., et al, Energies

Only water, electricity and heat are produced when hydrogen is used as fuel. Fuel cells are distinguished by the fact that they use a wide range of sources and raw materials or biofuels, so they can power an output as large as a municipal power plant and as small as a computer. personal laptop.

Innovations in Operational Techniques

The corresponding innovations are being introduced to the market, thanks to a multitude of international and regional funding programs. Yet fuel cells in real-world applications still have a long way to go in terms of endurance. In addition, operational techniques are essential to increase the resilience of the system.

While a strong operating strategy can provide stable, reliable, and long life, a poorly designed approach can result in the premature and unexpected death of critical components. Starting and stopping are two crucial processes in the operation of a fuel cell.

Therefore, the existence of air-hydrogen before and during on-off operation is a recognized trigger of significant cathode deterioration, and alternative solutions have been tried; not all of them have been effective and some have even caused damage. The deployment of a load after the introduction of reactive gases is another crucial phase of any operating plan.

Decomposed geometry of anodic and cathodic flow fields.

Decomposed geometry of anodic and cathodic flow fields. Image credit: Bodner, M., et al, Energies

The results show that the time is reduced

The method has reduced the time required to perform such calculations by several orders of magnitude; for example, a total simulation time of 75 seconds would take 3 hours when using a 1 s step, but it would take 156 days with a 1 ms step. This was achieved using high quality mesh, mist flow assumption, and operating circumstances which allow such a method, namely moderately moistened reagents and initial concentration.

A mixture of processes is probably responsible for a tiny amount of carbon corrosion. Oxygen remnants in the anode piping of the test unit, especially from the crossing of oxygen from the cathode to the anode, can react with hydrogen when injected, due to changes in heat at the active locations of the catalyst.

Oxidized carbon is enhanced by higher temperatures, the placement of a catalyst and the water content, as evidenced by CO2 emissions. There is a continuously reduced hydrogen content at the exit of the cell from when the cells are passed through and during analysis.

Membrane resistance

For membrane resistance, the concept is based on a single parameter. In fact, this is the limitation as it will not be stable over the entire current operating point range, and therefore the inaccuracy is most likely due to the diaphragm resistance input variable. Because the simulation tends to overestimate the concentration of hydrogen, the inlet and outlet concentrations have quite large errors at the start of the experiment.

In-depth research with polymer electrolyte

Research underscores the fact that there was no running out of fuel. The construction of hydrogen-powered automobiles of this quality in the transportation sector aims to improve fuel economy and significantly minimize emissions and engine intensity. Although in minimal quantities, the measured CO2 the emissions seem to be related to the entry of the reaction mixture rather than to a local hydrogen shortage.

The generated mathematical analysis will be used in future research to study the performance of PEM fuel cells using conventional drive cycles, the results being compared to the current density distributions obtained locally.

Gaseous compositions measured at start-up.

Gaseous compositions measured at start-up. Image credit: Bodner, M., et al, Energies

Given the importance of hydrogen energies as clean, renewable fuels in internal combustion, it is crucial to examine how they affect compression and spark-ignition engines. Simulations show that reduced machine start-up time can help in future development.

The references

Bodner, M., et al. (2021). Determination assisted by simulation of the starting time of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell. Energies, 14 (23), 7929;

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