Experimental study of hydrogen purge effects on performance and efficiency of an open-cathode proton exchange membrane fuel cell system
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The performance and efficiency of an open-cathode PEM fuel cell system in dead-ended anode (DEA) configuration and hydrogen purges is analyzed in this work. Excess water and crossed-over nitrogen in the anode decrease the hydrogen concentration at the catalyst surface, which in turn causes performance losses. Purging the anode with hydrogen removes water and nitrogen and thus recovers the performance. However, this means wasting hydrogen and decreasing overall system efficiency. Gas chromatography was used to detect and quantify the accumulated nitrogen in the anode during DEA operation. The experiments show that the major performance limitation in the studied system is related to water instead of nitrogen. Moreover, oxygen was detected in the anode exhaust gas after long purge intervals, which is an indicator for corrosion of the cathode carbon support structure. Experimental observations revealed that the need for a hydrogen purge strongly depends on the operating conditions and the state-of-health of the fuel cell. It is shown that flooding on the anode and drying of the cathode catalyst layer may occur simultaneously during purged operation. Therefore, purge decisions must be evaluated online, depending on the operating conditions.
CitationStrahl, S.; Husar, A.; Riera, J. Experimental study of hydrogen purge effects on performance and efficiency of an open-cathode proton exchange membrane fuel cell system. "Journal of power sources", 2013, vol. 248, p. 474-482.