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Optimization of Fuel Cell Generation Environment by Water Observation using Neutron Radiography

Article of Honda R&D Technical Review Vol.25 No.1

Summary

Electric generation by a polymer electrolyte fuel cell requires an appropriate quantity of water to help ensure proton conductivity of the membrane electrode assembly. However, excess water in the gas channels and the gas diffusion layer is thought to be a factor impeding gas supply, so it is necessary to appropriately control the water inside the fuel cell during electric generation.
This study used neutron radiography to observe the state of the water accumulated in a fuel cell during electric generation in order to clarify the mechanism by which water accumulates and its effect on voltage behavior, and set the optimum electric generation conditions.
Observation using neutron radiography was performed from the two directions of the through-plane direction and the in-plane direction of the fuel cell. Observation in the through-plane direction of an actual cell clarified the correlation between the accumulated water and the voltage behavior. On the other hand, observation in the in-plane direction of a test cell determined the gas channels in which accumulated water exists and the reason for that water accumulation, and suggested directions for countermeasures. Based on these results, the optimum electric generation environment was set in terms of water and electric generation performance, and applied to the control of an actual vehicle.

Reference

(1) Wang, H.: PEM FUEL CELL DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS, CRC Press, 260p., (2012)
(2) Hickner, M. A., Siegel, N. P., Chen, K. S., Hussey, D. S., Jacobson, D. L.: Observations of Transient Flooding in a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Using Time-Resolved Neutron Radiography, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, Vol. 157 (1), p. B32-B38, (2010)
(3) Eller, J., Rosén, T., Marone, F., Stampanoni, M., Wokaun, A., Büchi, F. N.: Progress in In Situ X-Ray Tomographic Microscopy of Liquid Water in Gas Diffusion Layers of PEFC, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, Vol. 158 (8), p. B963-B970, (2011)
(4) Teranishi, K., Tsushima, S., Hirai, S.: Analysis of Water Transport in PEFCs by Magnetic Resonance Imaging Measurement, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, Vol. 153 (4), p. A664-A668, (2006)
(5) Japan Atomic Energy Agency, http://sangaku.jaea.go.jp/3-facility/02-field/12-23.html
(6) Saito, N., Kikuchi, H., Nakao, Y.: New Fuel Cell Stack for FCX Clarity, Honda R&D Technical Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, p. 16-23
(7) Tanaka, S., Tanaka, Y.: Visualization of Liquid Water Distribution in Fuel Cell by Using Neutron Radiography, Honda R&D Technical Review, Vol. 23, No. 1, p. 44-49
(8) Boillat, P., Frei, G., Lehmann, E. H., Scherer, G. G., Wokaun, A.: Neutron Imaging Resolution Improvements Optimized for Fuel Cell Applications, Electrochemical and Solid-State Letters, 13, p. B25-B27, (2010)

Author (organization or company)

Hiroto CHIBA(Automobile R&D Center)、Chikara IWASAWA(Automobile R&D Center)

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