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Accumulation of Inert Impurities in a Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell System with Anode Recirculation and Periodic Purge: A Simple Analytical Model


Anode recirculation with periodic purge is commonly used in polymer electrolyte fuel cell systems to control the accumulation of nitrogen, water, and other impurities that are present in the fuel or diffuse through the membrane from the cathode compartment. In this work, we develop a simple, generalized analytical model that simulates the time dependence of the accumulation of inert impurities in the anode compartment of such a system. It is shown that, when there is transport out of the anode chamber, the inert species is expected to accumulate exponentially until equilibrium is reached when the rate of inert entering the anode in the fuel supply and/or via crossover from the cathode is balanced by the rate of leakage and/or crossover to the cathode. The model is validated using recently published experimental data for the accumulation of N2 , CH4 , and CO2 in a recirculated system. The results show that nitrogen accumulation needs to be taken into account to properly adjust system parameters such as purge rate, purge volume, and recirculation rate. The use of this generalized analytical model is intended to aid the selection of these system parameters to optimize performance in the presence of inerts.

Funding source: This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and Western Economic Diversification Canada. The research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs program.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Canada

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