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WinHEC Fuel Cell Whitepaper 2003

WinHEC Fuel Cell Whitepaper 2003

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Published by: Fenil Desai on May 15, 2008
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06/16/2009

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Fuel Cells for Portable Devices
Abstract
This paper provides information about fuel cell power sources for portable and/or wireless devices designed for the Microsoft
®
Windows
®
family of operatingsystems. It provides guidelines for industry designers to evaluate fuel celltechnology for inclusion in future portable and/or wireless devices.
Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................3Basic Fuel Cell Operation ........................................................................................................................3Fundamental Issues in Fuel Cell Device Operation ................................................................................5Useful Power Levels ...........................................................................................................................5Efficient Power Generation ................................................................................................................6Effective Power Systems ....................................................................................................................7Fuel Cell Technologies Applicable for Portable Devices .........................................................................8Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) FC ............................................................................................8Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) .....................................................................................................8Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) ............................................................................................................9Direct Methanol Fuel Cells .........................................................................................................................10Detailed Discussion ...............................................................................................................................10Design Issues ........................................................................................................................................10Volume ..............................................................................................................................................10Heat & Temperature .........................................................................................................................10Humidity & Pressure .........................................................................................................................11System Exhaust................................................................................................................................11Fuel Feed & Control.........................................................................................................................11Integration & Other Design Factors .......................................................................................................11Solid Oxide Fuel Cells ...............................................................................................................................12Detailed Discussion ...............................................................................................................................12Design Issues ........................................................................................................................................12Volume ..............................................................................................................................................12Heat & Temperature .........................................................................................................................12Humidity & Pressure ........................................................................................................................13System Exhaust...............................................................................................................................13Fuel Feed & Control.........................................................................................................................13Integration & Other Design Factors .......................................................................................................13Commercialization Requirements ..............................................................................................................15Fuel Selection & Infrastructure ..............................................................................................................15Industry Standards & Regulatory Approvals ..........................................................................................15Call to Action and Resources ....................................................................................................................16
 
Fuel Cells for Portable Devices - 2
Windows Hardware Engineering ConferenceAuthor's Disclaimer and Copyright:Copyright 2003, Dean C. Richardson, Alberta Research Council Inc.WinHEC Sponsors’ Disclaimer: The contents of this document have not been authored or confirmed byMicrosoft or the WinHEC conference co-sponsors (hereinafter “WinHEC Sponsors”). Accordingly, theinformation contained in this document does not necessarily represent the views of the WinHECSponsors and the WinHEC Sponsors cannot make any representation concerning its accuracy. THEWinHEC SPONSORS MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, WITH RESPECT TO THISINFORMATION.Microsoft, Windows, and Windows NT are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporationin the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein maybe the trademarks of their respective owners.
WinHEC 2003 
Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference
 
Fuel Cells for Portable Devices - 3
Introduction
This paper provides information about the application of fuel cell technology toportable and/or wireless consumer electronics or computing devices.Simply characterized, a fuel cell is a battery (an electrochemical device) in whichthe fuel for the electrochemical reaction is provided externally.
Basic Fuel Cell Operation
First demonstrated by English barrister Sir William Grove in 1839, fuel cells operateusing the same electrochemical principles as batteries, with the notable exceptionthat the fuel and the oxidant are supplied externally. As long as both thesefeedstocks are supplied, in theory the fuel cell can operate indefinitely, in markedcontrast to batteries, which need replacement or re-charging when their energypotential is exhausted.One useful estimate of potential can be estimated by comparing the energy densityof typical battery materials with the energy density of potential liquid fuels such asMethanol. Note that a typical Li-ion battery may yield 200 Watt-hours/liter (Wh/L)whereas Methanol yields 4700 Wh/L. Care must be exercised in gross comparisonsof this like, though, as Methanol needs to be combined in aqueous solutions to actas fuel, reducing it’s fuel density, and since efficiency calculations also need to betreated carefully. Still, there are substantial potential benefits in applying fuel cells inthis areaFigure 1, below, illustrates the basic concept for a generic low-temperature fuel cell:
AnodeCathodeElectrolyteLoad
e
-
e
-
FuelAir, Or Other OxidantOxidationH
2
-> 2H
+
+ 2e
-
Reduction4e
-
+ O
2
-> O
2-
ProductsProductsH
+
Proton FlowOverall Reaction2H
2
+O
2
-> 2H
2
O + 4e
-
Figure 1 - Basic Fuel Cell
Figure 1 illustrates an acid-electrolyte single-cell fuel cell. A fuel feed, rich inhydrogen, is supplied to the anode, where it is ionized, freeing electrons to flowthrough the external circuit while Hydrogen ions (H
+
), also called protons, flowthrough the acidic electrolyte. The anode reaction generates energy, and satisfiesmass balance requirements by exhausting products that may include un-ionizedhydrogen and other trace compounds from the fuel feed.
WinHEC 2003 
Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference

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