Chronoamperometric Study of Ammonia Oxidation in a Direct Ammonia Alkaline Fuel Cell Under the Influence of Microgravity

Wednesday, 31 May 2017: 08:00
Marlborough A (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
C. R. Cabrera Jr. (University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras), R. Acevedo (University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras), C. Morales (university of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras), L. Echegoyen (The University of Texas at El Paso), and R. A. Martínez-Rodríguez (University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus)
This is a study of the chronoamperometric performance of the electrochemical oxidation of ammonia in an alkaline fuel cell for space applications. Under microgravity the performance of a fuel cell is diminished by the absence of buoyancy since nitrogen gas is produced. The following catalysts were studied: platinum nanocubes of ca. 10nm, platinum nanocubes on carbon Vulcan and platinum on carbon nanoonion support of ca. 10nm. These nanomaterials were studied in order to search for catalysts that may reduce or counter the loss of ammonia oxidation current densities performance under microgravity conditions. Chronoamperometries at potential values ranging from 0.2 V to 1.2V vs. cathode potential (Breathing Air/300ml/min/12psi) in 1.0 M NH4OH (30ml/min in anode) were done during over 30 parabolas in the Zero G airplane. The current densities at 15s in the chronoamaperometric experiments showed diminishing values under microgravity and in some cases improvements of up to 92%, for Pt-carbon nanoonions, and over 70% for the three catalysts versus ground at potentials ranging from 0.2 to 0.4V after 5 minutes of chronoamperometric conditions. At higher potentials, 1.0V or higher, Pt nanocubes and Pt-carbon nanoonions showed enhancements of up to 32% and 24%, respectively. At these higher potentials we will have a contribution of oxygen evolution. The changes in current behavior are attributed to the sizes of the catalyst materials and the time needed for the N2 bubbles detachment from the Pt surface under microgravity conditions.