Fuel Cell Degradation Analysis
Authors:Abraham Garcia, Holly Murphy
Mentor:Timothy Usher, Doctorate Professor of Physics , California State University San Bernardino
The fuel cell world promises so much potential but it is faced with many challenges. Its applications vary from the automobile industry to NASA’s unpiloted aircrafts that operate at high altitudes. One of the challenges that fuel cells face is their durability. A series of experiments were conducted on Nafion membranes to analyze the performance of the fuel cell. Voltage with respect to current curves and voltage with respect to time are plotted as a measure of membrane durability.
In collaboration with the chemistry department at CSUSB, the membranes go through a protonation procedure with sulfuric acid. The purpose of the protonation solution is to complete the Hydrogen bonds that occur during operation of a fuel cell. We use the protonated treated membrane as a baseline to compare how fuel cells should behave. Other membranes were exposed to 60 hours of Fenton’s reagent, a chemical mixture that mimics the peroxide radicals that occur during the fuel cells operation. Membranes were also exposed to 48 hours of x-ray, which simulates cosmic, sun, and atmospheric radiation. After running a series of voltage and current curves, the results concluded that the X-rays yield a slight drop in starting values of voltage from 0.95V(baseline) to 0.93V, as for the Fenton’s treatment the voltage dropped from 0.95V(baseline) to 0.91V. Future modifications to the experimental procedures are to restrict the hydrogen flow to create more sensitivity.