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Nafion Resins: Novel Device Applications

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Proceedings of the 2002 U.S. DOE Hydrogen Program Review LOW COST, HIGH EFFICIENCY REVERSIBLE FUEL CELL SYSTEMS Dr. Christopher E. Milliken, Materials Group Leader Dr. Robert C. Ruhl, Vice President, Technology Technology Management Inc. 9718 Lake Shore Boulevard Cleveland, Ohio 44108 216-541-1000 Abstract Fuel cell technologies are described in the 2001 DOE Hydrogen Program Annual Operating Plan as "cost effective, highly efficient, and critical for overall success in the Hydrogen Program Strategic Plan". Fuel cells which operate on fossil fuels as well as on hydrogen serve as a transitional technology, as the world moves away from fossil fuels, and as an end point technology, for the production and utilization of Hydrogen. The TMI reversible fuel cell – electrolyzer system employs a high temperature solid-oxide based electrochemical process to produce electricity from common hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., natural gas, propane, and bio-derived fuel) as well as hydrogen. In electrolyzer mode, the reversible system uses electricity and thermal energy to convert pure water into fuel (hydrogen and oxygen). TMI’s reversible system uses the waste thermal energy produced during electricity generation mode to achieve high systems efficiency during electrolysis mode, ultimately lowering product life cycle costs for the combined system. To further increase systems efficiency, TMI has adopted a ‘passive’ cell design which minimizes balance of plant components During this phase, TMI demonstrated passive reversible cells and stacks that met many of the performance targets including reversible efficiency and life. Several conditions were evaluated to understand the sensitivity of performance on operating variables such as temperature and current density. The highest reversible efficiency (DCVolts_Out / DCVoltage_In) measured was 90.8% at 925°C and 50 mA/cm2. A five cell stack was operated at < 2% / 1000 hours voltage degradation in fuel cell mode for over 1200 hours. Data from this work was used to inform economic and engineering studies during Phase II. A versatile product line was envisaged, with the capability of delivering 5000 psi pure hydrogen for vehicle uses in addition to electric power and recovered usable heat. The proposed modular systems have high expected reliability and could be sized for either residential or commercial applications (including “power parks”) being fed by electric power (renewable or low-cost grid) and/or fuel (fossil or biomass-derived). The program has met or exceeded all technical objectives (as revised by DOE Hydrogen Program management) on budget and on time. Experimental results have been promising. The economic / engineering studies indicate potential for the TMI fuel cell - electrolyzer reversible system to set new performance standards, applicable to most alternative technologies, for achieving lower cost of H2 production, lower pollution levels, and potentially serving as an enabling technology for hydrogen fuel cells. NREL/CP-610-32405 1

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