Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Computer Engineering
Anthony Porter - Virginia State University
Co-Author(s): Dwayne Geter, Virginia State University,Petersburg, VA; N'Dea Jackson, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA; Domonique Hagins, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA; Sage Williams, Virginia State University, Petersburg; Jorge Lopez, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR
Fuel cells are continuous batteries which can be used as sustainable energy systems for transportation, industrial applications, and back-up and off-grid power because they have advantages over fossil fuel or traditional batteries. The Polymer Electrolyte Membrane, PEMFC, is attractive because of its operating temperature, and that it uses hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air. Previously, Old Dominion University undergraduate students attempted to use a regular ‘land-based’ Horizon 100W PEMFC as an auxiliary power source to extend the duration of a UAV flight. Success was hampered by the excessive weight of Horizon PEM 100W fuel cell. Our attention is focused on the weight reduction of the Horizon fuel cell because most of the fuel cell?s weight comes from the aluminum end plates along with the graphite bipolar plates. Therefore, we intend to replace the end plates and the bipolar plates of the fuel cell with 20% carbon fiber nylon and Garolite XX/Phenolic XX, respectively.
The fuel cell was designed using Autodesk fusion 360, fabricated, 3D model of bipolar plate and printed using PETG. The bipolar plates were fabricated using a 3D printer and then electroplated in gold. The gold plating was used to increase electrical conductivity. The end plates were machined from Garolite XX/Phenolic XX plates to make gas flow channels. Horizon?s and our fuel cells were tested using 855 Test System to obtain voltage versus current. Electroplating provides reliable electrical conductivity for bipolar plates. 1.342 V was detected in closed circuit of a bipolar plate using a 1.5 V battery. Overall weight was reduced by 56%. Voltage versus current data for Horizon 30W and 100W fuel cells showed dependence of voltage/power output on hydrogen flow rate. The 100W fuel cell was tested with the gold-electroplated bipolar plates, but did not generate current flow even though the potential was detected. Because the limited time for the project, this topic could not be resolved. We continue to work on building a multiple cell PEM fuel cell and using a different sequence of the gold-plated bipolar plate and MEA to increase the amount of current. We hope that the future study will find solutions to make the electroplated fuel cells fully functional.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF; HBCU-UP
Faculty Advisor: Dr.Jinmyun Jo, Jjo@vsu.edu
Role: Electroplating process for bipolar plate.