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Title:Integrated micro fuel cells with on-board hydride reactors and autonomous control schemes
Author(s):Vilasur Swaminathan, Vikhram
Advisor(s):Shannon, Mark A.
Department / Program:Mechanical Sci & Engineering
Discipline:Mechanical Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
Micro fuel cell
fuel cell
micro power generator
membrane electrode assembly
Abstract:Miniaturization of power generators to the MEMS scale, based on the hydrogen-air fuel cell, is the object of this research. The micro fuel cell approach has been adopted for advantages of both high power and energy densities. On-board hydrogen production/storage and an efficient control scheme that facilitates integration with a fuel cell membrane electrode assembly (MEA) are key elements for micro energy conversion. Millimeter-scale reactors (ca. 10 µL) have been developed, for hydrogen production through hydrolysis of CaH2 and LiAlH4, to yield volumetric energy densities of the order of 200 Whr/L. Passive microfluidic control schemes have been implemented in order to facilitate delivery, self-regulation, and at the same time eliminate bulky auxiliaries that run on parasitic power. One technique uses surface tension to pump water in a microchannel for hydrolysis and is self-regulated, based on load, by back pressure from accumulated hydrogen acting on a gas-liquid microvalve. This control scheme improves uniformity of power delivery during long periods of lower power demand, with fast switching to mass transport regime on the order of seconds, thus providing peak power density of up to 391.85 W/L. Another method takes advantage of water recovery by backward transport through the MEA, of water vapor that is generated at the cathode half-cell reaction. This regulation-free scheme increases available reactor volume to yield energy density of 313 Whr/L, and provides peak power density of 104 W/L. Prototype devices have been tested for a range of duty periods from 2-24 hours, with multiple switching of power demand in order to establish operation across multiple regimes. Issues identified as critical to the realization of the integrated power MEMS include effects of water transport and byproduct hydrate swelling on hydrogen production in the micro reactor, and ambient relative humidity on fuel cell performance.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Vikhram Vilasur Swaminathan
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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