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Reliable Testing: A Key to Successful Development of Fuel Cells

Whether for a stack development, end-of-line testing, or for building a power generator, in the fuel cell world, there is always great need for robust and reliable testing facilities. Fuel-cell based systems are relatively complicated devices with many components. Such a system needs to be thoroughly tested on many levels before it is put into operation. To give an idea about the extent of things that need to be “got right” on the way to a reliable and efficient fuel-cell device, let us walk through the processes and components found in the development of a PEM fuel-cell generator:

  • Formulation of catalysts for anode and cathode sides
    • Chemistry
      • Hydrogen oxidation reaction
      • Oxygen reduction reaction
    • Catalyst loading and durability
  • Design of Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA)
    • Gas diffusion layer (GDL)
    • Proton-exchange Membrane (PEM)
    • Method of catalyst deposition
    • Gaskets
  • Design of a stack
    • MEAs
    • Bipolar plates
      • Graphite, steel, or composite
      • Flow-field design for fuel, oxidant and coolant
    • Cooling
    • Sealing
    • Compression
    • Voltage monitoring
  • Design of a generator
    • Single-stack or multi-stack architecture
    • Balance-of-plant components
      • Air compressor
      • Hydrogen supply recirculation
      • Cooling
      • Humidification
    • Automation & control
  • System design
    • Hydrogen storage
    • Coupling with batteries
    • Power electronics (DC/DC converters, DC/AC inverters)
    • Efficiency
AirCell AC-5.1

This list, sorted from molecular scale to macroscopic system level, requires extensive knowledge in many disciplines of science and engineering. At the same time, it represents countless decisions made during the development. To support the decision-making process, it is always necessary to have as much information and data as possible. The testing equipment offered by Horizon Educational is perfectly suited for providing researchers and developers the best support in gathering information and data acquisition throughout various stages of the development process.

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