Development of a Common Differential Fuel Cell Test Fixture and Protocols to Expedite Material Development

Wednesday, 4 October 2017: 11:00
National Harbor 3 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
S. Arisetty (General Motors Company), J. Rock, J. Dabel, B. Lakshmanan (General Motors Company, Global Fuel Cell Activities), E. Kjell, C. Kennette (Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation), M. DeBolt (Ford Motor Company), S. Kinthali, N. Cherat, D. Naidu (General Motors Technical Center), M. Roth, and M. Harper (General Motors Company, Global Fuel Cell Activities)
Many test fixtures used for Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) development by the fuel cell community have major design drawbacks that both reduce the confidence in data sets and make the sharing of results difficult. A new common hardware design that incorporates the learnings and best practices from various technical leaders is needed to improve build robustness and reduce cell-to-cell variation. Such common hardware can yield improved data quality and accurate comparisons, thus accelerating materials development. Further, creating a common set of differential cell protocols along with corresponding data processing tools can facilitate sharing of results and researcher confidence in data quality. The design objective of the single cell hardware is to ensure MEAs are exposed to uniform conditions during testing of both performance and durability with minimal influence due to the flow field.

In this talk, we will present the design and results from a simplified test hardware that can improve the overall quality of testing and facilitate comparisons from lab-to-lab. The design ensures as much as possible a uniform distribution of all physical quantities such as velocity, pressure, temperature, and oxygen concentration in the flow field. Minimal oxygen concentration gradient across land-channel is ensured in the design with parallel flow fields, having fine land of 0.24 cm, and operating at high (>10) stoichiometry. Pressure drop across the inlet and outlet ports in the hardware is also reduced by designing the ports for minimal restriction. Temperature and compression uniformity is also ensured in the design. The hardware is set to operate with stress control through a pneumatic system integrated into the anode end-plate with the additional capability to regulate compression during operation.

To investigate the uniformity of key paramaters, FEA, CFD, thermal, and ohmic analyses were performed on the designed cell. Hardware replicates will be tested at multiple labs, and an operating procedure will be developed and shared with the community. Assuming successful development, we propose broad adoption of this hardware across the community as a common MEA testing platform.