What is the Purpose of a Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL)?

The Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL) plays several critical roles in a typical fuel cell application and is often integrated as part of the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA). Typical applications that use GDLs consist of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells (PEMFC) and Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC). When a GDL is coated with a catalyst it is than referred to as a Gas Diffusion Electrode (GDE), which are sometimes sold or installed separately from the Membrane or MEA.  Acting as an electrode is the easy … [Read more...]

What Nafion Membrane Thickness is Right for an Electrolyzer / Hydrogen Generation?

Nafion membranes come in many different thickness and types.  How do you know which to choose when designing an electrolyzer (hydrogen generator)?Choosing the proper thickness depends primarily on the differential pressure you expect across the membrane (i.e. what pressure you will be generating the hydrogen at vs. the oxygen), the type of support the membrane will have, and the operating lifetime (both hours and on/off cycles). Our Standard … [Read more...]

Why is Humidity / Moisture Control Important in a Fuel Cell?

The root of all of this is that Nafion membranes must stay hydrated to function properly. If they are not fully humidified the conductivity decreases and therefore more of the electricity is converted directly to heat before it leaves the membrane (I2R heating). If it gets too dry it basically stops functioning as a proton transporter.  All this sounds great since a Hydrogen Fuel Cell consumes Hydrogen and Oxygen to generate electricity and water, so you would think there should be plenty … [Read more...]

Fuel Cell Voltage Monitoring Considerations

  Knowing what's happening inside a fuel cell is a critical function, especially as fuel cells are continuing to be developed. One important aspect of this is to measure the voltage of each cell in a stack. Although this may sound trivial, it can be more complex and more expensive than it may at first appear due to high voltages, high channel counts, communication types, etc. There are a few products commercially available that are designed specifically for fuel cell voltage … [Read more...]

How Many Cells do I Need in my Fuel Cell? (Simple Fuel Cell Design Guide)

As with Electrolyzers on my previous post, there are many nuances in the optimal design of a Fuel Cell.  The proper selection depends on the application, type of fuel cell, component selection and design (MEAs, flow fields, etc.) and a host of other factors. However, I will start with a simple tool that will help determine some general characteristics of a typical H2/Air fuel cell.  Thanks to our handy simple Fuel Cell Design Guide, you can take an IV curve of any MEA, choose an active … [Read more...]

How Much Hydrogen (or Oxygen) Will my Electrolyzer Make?

There are a lot of design considerations that go into an electrolyzer that will dictate what pressure they can operate at, their efficiency, safety, etc.  Today I will let you worry about all the mechanical design and talk a bit about the principles behind the electrolyzer and what this means to you (the designer).  Everything below applies primarily to PEM water electrolysis, but much of it may apply to other electrolyzer types as well.  If you want to skip the explanation, you … [Read more...]

FuelCellsEtc – Spin-out or Sale response

There has been some question about whether FuelCellsEtc was a “Spin-out” or an “Acquisition” (see Fuel Cell Nations post).  I confess, this is largely due to my own inconsistencies in terminology. So here’s the skinny:  FuelCellsEtc licensed (exclusively) all of the technology, process, etc of the Commercial Fuel Cell Components Division (CFCC) at Lynntech.  We also brought over most of the people in the group as well as virtually all of the equipment, materials, etc.  We still operate under … [Read more...]