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Microscale Thermo-Fluid Lab Laminar Flow Fuel Cell

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that combine fuel and oxidant sources to produce an electrical power. This is accomplished by separating a thermodynamically favorable reaction into two half reactions where ions are allowed to transfer from one half to the other through an electrolyte, while electrons are routed through a circuit. The half reactions are fuel oxidation at the anode and oxidant reduction at the cathode. In the past decade, the paradigm of using micro fuel cells for portable power applications has inspired novel innovations in fuel cell technology. One such example is the laminar flow fuel cell (LFFC), which utilizes co-laminar flow to maintain the separation between the anode and cathode instead of a solid electrolyte such as the membrane used in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells [1-8]. Though the membraneless LFFC provides some convenience, fuel crossover is a major issue in this type of cell. Fuel crossover is the phenomenon where the fuel supply at the anode bleeds over into the cathode catalyst layer which adversely affects the overall fuel cell performance. Also, the lack of a physical separation can permit oxidant to crossover to anode side and impact device performance. In this study, a simple, yet more general, method for representing reactant crossover is introduced that can account for both fuel and oxidant crossover. This model is then used to study the performance and reactant crossover in a LFFC operating with different electrode lengths and separations [3].

  1. Sprague, I., Dutta, P., and Ha, S., 2009, “Characterization of a Membraneless Direct-Methanol Micro Fuel Cell,” Proc. IMechE, Part A: J. Power and Energy, Vol. 223 (7), pp. 799-808.
  2. Sprague, I., Dutta, P., and Ha, S., 2010, “Flow Rate Effect on Methanol Electro-oxidation in a Microfluidic Laminar Flow System,” Journal of New Materials for Electrochemical Systems, Vol. 13(4), 305-313.
  3. Sprague, I., Byun, D., and Dutta, P., 2010, “Effects of Reactant Crossover and Electrode Dimensions on the Performance of a Microfluidic Based Laminar Flow Fuel Cell,” Electrochimica Acta, Vol. 55(28), pp 8579-8589.
  4. Sprague, I. B., and Dutta, P., 2011, “Modeling of Diffuse Charge Effects in a Microfluidic Based Laminar Flow Fuel Cell,” Numerical Heat Transfer: Part A, Vol. 59, pp 1-27.
  5. Sprague, I. B., and Dutta, P., 2011, “Role of Diffuse layer in Acidic and Alkaline Fuel Cells,” Electrochimica Acta, Vol. 56, pp 4518-4525.
  6. Sprague, I. B., and Dutta, P., 2012, “Depth Averaged Analytical Solution for a Laminar Flow Fuel Cell with Electric Double Layer Effects,” SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, Vol. 72, pp. 1149-1168.
  7. Sprague, I. B. and Dutta, P., 2012, “Performance Improvement of Micro-Fuel Cell by Manipulating the Charged Diffuse layer,” Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 101, 113903.
  8. Sprague, I. B. and Dutta, P., 2013, “Improved Kinetics from Ion Advection through Overlapping Electric Double Layers in Nano-Porous Electrodes,” Electrochimica Acta, Vol. 91, pp. 20-29.