About Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, heat and water on a comparatively high electrical efficiency compared to many energy conversion devices of today. They have been considered one of the potential alternatives for various stationary and mobile applications. As a technology, fuel cells are easily scalable from mW range portable devices to MW size CHP power plants.

The PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) is considered to be the most promising of the different fuel cell types for vehicles and similar applications which require high power density and operate in areas where low local emissions are preferred. The PEMFC accepts pure hydrogen gas as fuel which can be produced either off-board by reforming hydrocarbons or by electrolysis from water or alternatively on-board from liquid fuels like diesel or alcohols. A visual presentation of how PEM fuel cells work can be found, for example here.

Inaddition to the fuel cell stack, a fuel cell power source still needs various auxiliaries around it to operate. The reactant supply and humidification, thermal management, control system and overall system safety all need to be taken into account. A general term used in the business for these auxiliary subsystems is the Balance-of-Plant (BoP). How to implement these subsystems depends heavily on how and where the system will be operated and today several companies are offering more or less complete integrated systems designed with different kinds of applications in mind. A limitation from a scientific point of view with these systems is that they include only the minimal set of instrumentation required to operate them and the control strategy of these power sources is often not openly available to customers. This has been one of the driving forces that lead to development of NutDAC.

For more information about different types of fuel cells, fuel cell systems and their applications can be found in many places throughout the internet. One place to start could be the Fuel Cell Europe website or the FAQ section on the Nedstack website .