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Special Topics ( Fuel Cell
Fundamentals and Technology)
Dr.-Eng. Zayed Al-Hamamre
Fuel Cell Principles: Introduction
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Anode and cathode Degradation corrosion and erosion
Fuel cell irreversibility
Hydrogen Production and storage techniques
Photovoltaic fuel cell systems
Fuel cell Mathematical Modeling (SOFC)
Course Projects
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Contents
What is a fuel cell
A Simple fuel cell
Fuel cell advantage and disadvantage
Basic Operating Features
Fuel Cell Stack
Fuel Cell Systems Introduction
Energy/Environmental Context
Fuel Cell Types
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What is a fuel cell?
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy stored in fuels
into electrical energy directly.
A fuel cell will continue to churn out product (electricity) as long as raw material
(fuel) is supplied (Continuous Process)
Unlike batteries, a fuel cell is not consumed when it produces electricity.
Input (Fuel)
Output
H
2
-O
2
Fuel cell
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Compared with conventional thermal power system:
Each step introduces losses that adversely affect the overall conversion efficiency.
Motion of Piston or Turbine
that derive a generator
Fuel Conversion
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Fuel is burned releasing heat.
In H
2
Combustion: H
2
+.5O
2
H
2
O, hydrogen molecules are oxidized,
producing water and releasing heat.
Conversion in conventional thermal power system (combustion engine):
1. O
2
and H
2
gases
2. Bonds are Brocken
3. H-O bonds are formed
associated with energy
release as heat (3 and 4)
4. These bonds are broken and
formed by the transfer of
electrons between the
molecules.
E
H2O bonding
< E
H2 and O2 bonding
Conventional Thermal Power System
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Overall reaction:
2H
2
+O
2
2H
2
O
is split into two electrochemical half reactions
Anodic reaction:
2H
2
4H
+
+4e
-
flow through an external
circuit as current
transfer through
the electrolyte
Cathodic reaction:
O
2
+4H
+
+4e
-
2H
2
O
Both reaction are catalized
Conversion in Fuel Cell
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H
2
O
2
Fuel cell:
Two platinum electrodes dipped into Sulfuric acid (an
aqueous acid electrolyte).
Hydrogen gas, bubbled across the left electrode, is split
into protons (H
+
) and electrons.
The protons can flow through the electrolyte, but the
electrons cannot.
The electrons flow from left to right through a piece of
wire that connects the two platinum electrodes.
When the electrons reach the right electrode, they
recombine with protons and bubbling oxygen gas to
produce
The flowing electrons will
provide power to the load
Simple Fuel Cell
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At the anode oxidation reaction (electrons are
removed from a species) is taking place
At the cathode reduction reaction (electrons are
added to a species) is taking place.
Consists of an electrolyte layer in contact with
an anode and a cathode on either side
Fuel Cell Components
Electrolyte layer
1. liquid electrolyte fuel cells,
The reactant gases diffuse through a thin electrolyte film that wets portions of
the porous electrode and react electrochemically on their respective electrode
surface.
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The electrochemical performance could be reduced if the porous electrode
contains an excessive amount of electrolyte, due to the restriction of gaseous
species transportation.
2. Solid electrolyte fuel cells,
A large number of catalyst sites into the interface that are electrically and
ionicallyconnected to the electrode and the electrolyte, is required
A high-performance interface requires the use of an electrode which, in the zone
near the catalyst, has mixed conductivity (conducts both electrons and ions)
Reducing the thickness of the electrolyte, and developing improved electrode and
electrolyte materials which broaden the temperature range over which the cells can
be operated.
Fuel Cell Components
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The electrolyte not only transports dissolved reactants to the electrode, but also
conducts ionic charge between the electrodes, and thereby completes the cell electric
circuit
Fuel Cell Electrodes
The electrodes are highly porous to
1. Further increase the reaction surface area and ensure good gas access.
2. Ensure that reactant gases are equally distributed over the cell
3. Ensure that reaction products are efficiently led away to the bulk gas phase
Electrode must be made of materials that have good electrical conductance in order
to conduct electrons away from or into the electrode electrolyte interface (three-
phase interface) once they are formed and provide current collection and connection
with either other cells or the load.
Fuel Cell Components
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FC Basic Operation
Separate liquid- or gas-phase fuel and oxidizer streams enter through flow channels,
separated by the electrolyte/electrode assembly.
Reactants are transported by diffusion and/or convection to the catalyst layer (electrode),
where electrochemical reactions take place to generate current
Electrons are produced at the anode
e
-
flow through the bipolar plate
(also called cell interconnect) to the
external circuit driving the load ,
the ions generated migrate through
the electrolyte to complete the
circuit.
At the cathode, e
-
recombine with
the oxidizer in the cathodic oxidizer
reduction reaction (ORR)
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FC Basic Operation
Fuel cells produce electricity by converting a primary energy source (a fuel) into a
flow of electrons.
This conversion necessarily involves an energy transfer step, where the energy from
the fuel source is passed along to the electrons constituting the electric current
This transfer has a finite rate and must occur at an interface or reaction surface.
The amount of electricity produced proportional with the amount of reaction surface
area or interfacial area available for the energy transfer. Larger surface areas translate
into larger currents.
To provides large reaction surfaces that maximize surface-to-volume ratios:
Fuel cells are usually made into thin, planar structures.
The electrodes are highly porous to further increase the
reaction surface area and ensure good gas access.
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
e
-
3. Ionic conduction
through the electrolyte
and electron
conduction through the
external circuit
4. Product removal from
the fuel cell
1. Reactant delivery (transport) into the fuel cell
2. Electrochemical reaction
+ve ions
or
-ve ions
Depleted
Oxidant and
Product Gases
Out
Depleted Fuel and
Product Gases Out
Cross-sectional view of a planar fuel cell
Inside the Stack
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Reactant Transport
Efficient delivery of reactants is accomplished by using flow field plates
Flow field plates contain many fine channels or grooves to carry the gas flow and
distribute it over the surface of the fuel cell.
The shape, size, and pattern of flow channels can significantly affect the
performance of the fuel cell
Electrochemical Reaction
The current generated by the fuel cell is directly related to how fast the
electrochemical reactions proceed. High current output is desirable.
Catalysts are used to increase the speed and efficiency of the electrochemical
reactions.
The reactions kinetics represent greatest limitation to fuel cell performance.
Inside the Stack
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Ionic (and Electronic) Conduction.
The electrochemical reactions either produce or consume ions and electrons.
To maintain charge balance, these ions and electrons must therefore be transported
from the locations where they are generated to the locations where they are
consumed.
Ions transport tends to be more difficult than that of electrons. This is because ions
are much larger and more massive than electrons.
ionic transport can represent a significant resistance loss, reducing fuel cell
performance
Thus, the electrolytes in technological fuel cells are made as thin as possible to
minimize the distance over which ionic conduction must occur.
Inside the Stack
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Product Removal
In addition to electricity, all fuel cell reactions will generate at product species.
The H
2
O
2
fuel cell generates water.
Hydrocarbon fuel cells will typically generate water and carbon dioxide (CO
2
).
These products must be removed to prevent fuel cell blocking
Inside the Stack
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell Stacking
For most practical fuel cell applications, unit cells must be combined in a modular
fashion into a cell stack to achieve the voltage and power output level required for
the application (Increase voltage (and power) to useful levels).
Generally, the stacking involves connecting multiple unit cells in series via
electrically conductive interconnects.
Stacking Arrangements
Planar-Bipolar Stacking
The most common fuel cell stack design
Individual unit cells are electrically connected with interconnects (separator plate).
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell stack
arrangements
Single Cell
GDL
Membran
Flow Fields
The separator plate:
1. To provide an electrical series connection between adjacent cells, specifically for
flat plate cells, and
2. To provide a gas barrier that separates the fuel and oxidant of adjacent cells.
3. The interconnect also includes channels that distribute the gas flow over the cells
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Larminie and Dicks,2003
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Serpentine flow. Air
or fuel follow a zig-
zag path
Spiral flow. Applies
to circular cells
Cross-flow. Air and fuel flow perpendicular to
each other
Co-flow. Air and fuel
flow parallel and in the
same direction. In the
case of circular cells,
this means the gases
flow radially outward
Counter-flow. Air and
fuel flow parallel but
in opposite directions.
Again, in the case of
circular cells this
means radial flow
Larminie and Dicks,2003
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
Tel. +962 6 535 5000 | 22888
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Larminie and Dicks,2003
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell Stacking
Fuel cell stack in series. The total current is the same in each fuel cell; the voltage is
additive for each fuel cell plate in series.
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Larminie and Dicks,2003
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
Tel. +962 6 535 5000 | 22888
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Larminie and Dicks,2003
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell Stack
Larminie and Dicks,2003
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Stacks with Tubular Cells
Developed for high-temperature fuel cells
Have significant advantages in sealing and in the structural integrity of the cells.
They represent a special
geometric challenge to the
stack designer when it comes
to achieving high power
density and short current
paths.
Single tubular Cell
Fuel Cell Stack
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Tubular Stack
Bundle (24 Cells)
Fuel Cell Stacking
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell Types
There are five major types of fuel cells, differentiated from one another by their electrolyte:
1. Phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC)
2. Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC)
3. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC)
4. Molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC)
5. Solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC)
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Fuel Cell Types
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Fuel Cell Systems
Practical fuel cell systems require several other sub-systems and components; the
so-called balance of plant (BoP), i.e. heat exchangers, controls, valves, fans, etc
The precise arrangement of the BoPdepends heavily on :
Fuel cell type
Fuel choice
The application
Specific operating conditions and
Requirements of individual cell and stack designs
Fuel cell systems (power plant) contain:
Fuel cell stack
Fuel preparation, i.e. impurities removal and fuel processing
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Thermal management, controlling the stack temperature (POB), heat exchangers,
controls, valves, fans.
Electric power conditioning equipment (converting the variable DC voltage output
to AC current.
Air supply.
Water management
A simple rendition of a
fuel cell power plant.
Fuel Cell Systems
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Fuel Cell Systems
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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FC and Environmental
Fuel cells are environmentally friendly (if H
2
is used as fuel).
The environmental impact of fuel cells depends strongly on the context of their use
H
2
fuel cells are coupled with
electrolyzers and renewable energy
technologies (such as wind and solar
power) to provide a completely closed-
loop
pollution-free energy
economy
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell: Advantages
Fuel cells they are often far more efficient than combustion engines produce
electricity directly from chemical energy,
Fuel cells can be all solid state and mechanically ideal, meaning no moving parts
highly reliable, silent operation and long-lasting systems
Undesirable products such as NOx, SOx , and particulate emissions are virtually
zero.
Fuel cells offer potentially higher energy densities compared to batteries and can
be quickly recharged by refueling
Fuel cells allow easy independent scaling between power (determined by the fuel
cell size) and capacity (determined by the fuel reservoir size).
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Fuel Cell: Disadvantages
Fuel cell technology is currently only economically competitive in a few highly
specialized applications (e.g., onboard the Space Shuttle orbiter) due to the cost.
Operational temperature compatibility concerns, susceptibility to environmental
poisons, and durability under startstop cycling.
Fuel availability and storage:
Fuel cells work best on hydrogen gas, a fuel which is not widely available, has
a low volumetric energy density, and is difficult to store
Alternative fuels (e.g., gasoline, methanol, formic acid) are difficult to use
directly and usually require reforming. These problems can reduce fuel cell
performance and increase the requirements for ancillary equipment.
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Fuel Cell Challenges
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Fuel Cell Challenges
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Fuel Cell Challenges
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Energy, Power, Energy density, and Power Density
Energy is defined as the ability to do work (J ).
Power is the rate at which energy is expended or produced intensity of energy use or
production (J .s
-1
=W)
Energy =power time, Wh=3600 J
Power density refers to the amount of power that can be produced by a device per
unit mass (gravimetric) or volume (volumetric).
Energy density refers to the total energy capacity available to the system per unit
mass or volume.
Power density and energy density are more important than power and energy because
they provide information about how big a system needs to be to deliver a certain
amount of energy or power
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Energy density comparison of selected fuels (lower heating value).
Energy density
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Improvements are required if fuel cells are to compete in portable and automotive
applications
Power density
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Automobile
DaimlerChrysler
GM Opel Ford
Fiat
Toyota
Volkswagen
DaimlerChrysler Ballard
MAN Siemens
Fuel Cell Applications
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Fuel Cell Applications
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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PlugPower
Sulzer Hexis
HGC (Energiepartners)
Houshold Applications
Vaillant
Fuel Cell Applications
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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H Power
Corporation
Fraunhofer Institut
fr Solare
Energiesysteme
Portable Devices
Fuel Cell Applications
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Howaldswerke
Deutsche
Werft
Space and Marine Applications
International Space Station ISS
Space Shuttle
Fuel Cell Applications
Chemical Engineering Department | University of J ordan | Amman 11942, J ordan
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Fuel Cell Applications
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Major engineering disciplines involved in fundamental fuel cell science.
Fundamentals of Fuel Cell Science,