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Determining the quality and quantity of heat produced by proton exchange membrane fuel cells with application to air-cooled stacks for combined heat and power

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dc.contributor.author Schmeister, Thomas
dc.date.accessioned 2010-07-19T17:43:38Z
dc.date.available 2010-07-19T17:43:38Z
dc.date.copyright 2010 en
dc.date.issued 2010-07-19T17:43:38Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/2904
dc.description.abstract This thesis presents experimental and simulated data gathered specifically to assess air-cooled proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as a heat and electrical power source for residential combined heat and power (CHP). The experiments and simulations focused on the air-cooled Ballard Nexa fuel cell. The experimental characterization provided data to assess the CHP potential of the Nexa and validate the model used for the simulations. The model was designed to be applicable to any air-cooled PEM fuel cell. Based on hourly load data, four Nexa fuel cells would be required to meet the peak electrical load of a typical coastal British Columbia residence. For a year of operation with the four fuel cells meeting 100% of the electrical load, simultaneous heat generation would meet approximately 96% of the space heating requirements and overall fuel cell efficiency would be 70%. However, the temperature of the coolant expelled from the Nexa varies with load and is typically too low to provide for occupant comfort based on typical ventilation system requirements. For a year of operation, the coolant mean temperature rise is only 8.3 +/- 3.4 K above ambient temperature. To improve performance as a CHP heat engine, the Nexa and other air-cooled PEM fuel cells need to expel coolant at temperatures above 325 K. To determine if PEM fuel cells are capable of achieving this coolant temperature, a model was developed that simulates cooling system heat transfer. The model is specifically designed to determine coolant and stack temperature based on cooling system and stack design (i.e. geometry). Simulations using the model suggest that coolant mass flow through the Nexa can be reduced so that the desired coolant temperatures can be achieved without the Nexa stack exceeding 345 K during normal operation. Several observations are made from the presented research: 1) PEM fuel cell coolant air can be maintained at 325 K for residential space heating while maintaining the stack at a temperature below the 353 K Nafion design limits chosen for the simulations; 2) The pressure drop through PEM cooling systems needs to be considered for all stack and cooling system design geometries because blower power to overcome the pressure drop can become very large for designs specifically chosen to minimize stack temperature or for stacks with long cooling channels; 3) For the air-cooled Nexa fuel cell stack, heat transfer occurring within the fuel cell cooling channels is better approximated using a constant heat flux mean Nusselt correlation than a constant channel temperature Nusselt correlation. This is particularly true at higher output currents where stack temperature differences can exceed 8 K. en
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en
dc.rights Available to the World Wide Web en
dc.subject PEM fuel cells en
dc.subject combined heat and power en
dc.subject.lcsh UVic Subject Index::Sciences and Engineering::Engineering::Mechanical engineering en
dc.title Determining the quality and quantity of heat produced by proton exchange membrane fuel cells with application to air-cooled stacks for combined heat and power en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.contributor.supervisor Wild, Peter Martin
dc.contributor.supervisor Djilali, Nedjib
dc.degree.department Dept. of Mechanical Engineering en
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en


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