Project Code: 18115
Project Title: Ten Kilowatt Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell
Project Type: Faculty
Project Intellectual Property: University Controlled
Project Citizenship Restriction: No
Sponsor Company: UA Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Description: There are several benefits to hydrogen polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell technology, including a high power density and a relatively low weight. However, hydrogen gas storage can be problematic and hazardous. In addition, low-temperature fuel cells often require relatively large water-cooling systems to run efficiently.To eliminate these issues, the team’s design uses a high operating temperature and an integrated reformer, which removes the need for hydrogen storage. The reformer uses methanol and steam to produce high-purity hydrogen gas through a methanol-steam reforming reaction, and the introduction of a catalyst. The high activation energy of the reforming reaction allows easier integration with the high operating temperatures of the fuel cell: around 180 degrees Celsius. The hydrogen gas can then be isolated using a palladium membrane and fed to the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell stack, where hydrogen gas and oxygen come in contact with a platinum catalyst. Positive hydrogen ions are transferred through an electrolyte membrane to create power output. Potential uses of this technology include primary or secondary energy sources for residential and industrial applications.