Alternative Energy Conversion Research  



Research in alternative energy conversion...

is dedicated to studying alternative energy conversion processes without combustion such as electrochemical conversion. While combustion will continuously serve as the primary source of our energy conversion needs for the immediate future, cleaner and more efficient mode of energy conversion will continue to increase. Currently, much of the focus in our laboratory is in optimization of passive oxide supply modules in 'Proton Exchange Membrane' (PEM) fuel cells.





Fuel Cell Test Station

We have constructed a full scale fuel cell testing station in our laboratory which includes automated control of fuel cell load, gas supply, humidification, and cell heating. The test station is equipped with data acquisition of fuel cell performance characteristics including V-I curves and AC impedance. Multiple test runs can be mapped and executed automatically. 

Supported by International Collaboration with Sogang University (Seoul, Korea)


Fabrication of Passive Single Layer PEM Fuel Cell

The main goal of the current research is to optimize the oxidizer layer of a passive miniature fuel cell. We have designed and fabricated multiple miniature fuel cell layers which can be either operated in a passive mode or with an active oxidizer supply unit. Left image shows a miniature 5 cm2 fuel cell stack (1A per 1cm2) with controlled heating and serpentine patterns for gas supplies. 




Imaging of Fuel Cell Performance

For the passive fuel cell layer where the MEA is exposed on one side, we are in the process of applying a range of optical and laser diagnostics to understand the heat and mass transfer characteristics of the fuel cell which will ultimately determine it's performance. Right side image shows both infrared imaging of the fuel cell MEA layer and Schlieren imaging of the gas plumes directly over the MEA. The goal is to design a new oxidizer supply layer which will actively enhance the mixing process and result in higher efficiency of the fuel cell.



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