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Reactor Dynamics of PEM Fuel Cells

  • Jay Benziger
Part of the Topics in Applied Physics book series (TAP, volume 113)

Introduction

Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are complex multiphase chemical reactors, whose principal products are water and an electric current. The basic operation of fuel cells has been reviewed previously in this volume. Hydrogen and oxygen are fed on opposite sides of an ion-conducting polymer. Hydrogen is oxidized to protons at a catalytic anode and the protons are conducted across the membrane where they react with oxygen and electrons to make water at a catalytic cathode. The proton current is driven by the chemical potential difference of hydrogen between the anode and cathode. When an external load is connected across the anode and cathode, an electron current passes through the external load, matched by a proton current through the ion-conducting membrane. The current is limited by both the external load impedance and the internal resistance of the ion-conducting membrane.

The internal resistance of the polymer electrolyte membrane depends on the water content...

Keywords

Fuel Cell Flow Channel Load Resistance Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Model Fuel Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the National Science Foundation (CTS -0354279 and DMR-0213707) for support of this work. Andy Bocarsly and Supramaniam Srinivasan were instrumental in introducing me to PEM fuel cells. I want to thank all the undergraduate students (J.F. Moxley, C. Teuscher, E. Karnas, C. Woo, R. Mejia-Ariza) and graduate students (E.-S. J.Chia, W. Hogarth, B. Satterfield) for their contributions in the lab. I especially want to thank my collaborator Ioannis Kevrekidis for encouragement to pursue this work, and developing mathematical models for the complex system dynamics.

Nomenclature

Achannel

cross-sectional area for flow channel

aw

water activity = Pw/Pw o

D

Gas phase diffusivity

F

volumetric flow rate of reactant feeds

I

current

iH+

proton current

kw

mass transfer coefficient for water vapor

lchannel

length of flow channel

NSO3

number of sulfonic acid residues in membrane

Nwm

water content in membrane

Pw

partial pressure of water

Pwo

vapor pressure of water

R

gas constant

Rint

internal resistance for fuel cell membrane electrode assembly

RL

external load resistance

T

temperature

V

voltage drop across the load

Vg

gas flow volume at fuel cell electrodes

Vb

battery voltage for fuel cell

Voc

open circuit voltage of fuel cell

Vop

activation polarization overpotential

λ

number of water molecules per sulfonic acid residue

τR

residence time of fuel cell

τD

characteristic diffusion time

τi

characteristic time constants

F

Faraday’s constant

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2009 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay Benziger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringPrinceton UniversityPrinceton

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