Measuring fuel cell performance by Catherine Early

Researchers at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts have launched a programme to discover ways to improve how fuel cells perform and what they cost to operate.

Linde Gas specialists engineered a complete system for Suffolk based on a compact 600cc/minute electrolysis laboratory hydrogen generator made by Proton Energy Systems.

Ultra-pure hydrogen gas from the generator feeds into a low-pressure metal hydride tank which safely stores large volumes of hydrogen and provides input to the fuel cell.

To complete the first phase of the programme, the researchers are documenting average run-times for the generator to fill the metal hydride tanks.

Phase two will involve cycling the stored hydrogen through the 60W fuel cell stack. Students will gauge how fast hydrogen is used and the power-generating capabilities of the fuel cell.

In the final phase, the fuel cell will be connected to and power the electric motor in a small radio-controlled truck.

The project is intended to help determine the lifetime of fuel cell components, measure the advantages of using a metal hydride storage system for hydrogen, and to see how a hydrogen fuel cell can reduce vehicle emissions.

The knowledge gained will provide a springboard for the school’s large-scale plan – a wind and photovoltaics-powered hydrogen generator to fuel hydrogen-based power systems at Suffolk’s Friedman Field Station in Edmunds, Maine.

Suffolk Uni (+1) 617 573 8000

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