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ALTERNATE FUELS- Optimisation of PEMFCs ABSTRACT

Author Name: Prem Kumar M. College: Sri Krishna College Of Technology E-mail id: prem23.5.93@gmail.com

While the world is moving towards renewable energy sources, one of the major sector for the cause of the desire is Automobile industry for reducing its usage of fossil fuels like diesel and gasoline. Thus now all eyes are on Fuel cells. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are highly efficient power generators, achieving up to 50-60% conversion efficiency, even at sizes of a few kilowatts. PEMFCs have zero pollutant emissions when fuelled directly with hydrogen, and near zero emissions when coupled to reformers. These attributes make them potentially attractive for a variety of applications including electric vehicles and distributed generation and cogeneration of heat and power in buildings. Over the past few years, there have been intense efforts worldwide to develop low-cost PEMFC systems. Contrasting PEMFCs from SOFCs for selecting the appropriate technology for futuristic development majorly concentrating VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY. Also cogeneration techniques for cutting off power supply of Vehicle gadgets such as Lights, Pumps, and any other sub-assemblies which currently rely on the power of Fuel cell itself. Scope of this review paper is to improvise the emission norms, depletion of Fossil fuels, development of renewable energy sources, and to decrease the cost of this new reliable technology.

OPTIMISATION OF PEM-FCs Introduction to fuel cell A fuel cell (FC) is an energy conversion device. It converts chemical energy into electrical energy; providing electrical power to perform work. This is in contrast to a battery, which is an energy storage device. While a battery also converts chemical energy into electrical energy, it is a closed system and so its energy output depends on the amount of energy initially stored in it; whereas a fuel cell can continue to provide energy for as long as fuel is provided. However, in reality, because of operational wear and tear, even fuel cells have finite lifetimes. All fuel cells, regardless of their type, require certain basic elements: Fuel, Oxidant, Electrolyte, Anode, and Cathode. Depending upon the fuel cell type and its material construction, the electrolyte will conduct either positive or negative ions. These ions are produced by the electrochemical reactions that take place at the anode and cathode; fuel enters on the anode side, while oxidant enters on the cathode side. Fuel cells have higher conversion efficiencies when compared to heat engines. And from an environmental aspect, fuel cell emissions are less adverse than those of the heat engine devices in use today. To date, fuel cell technology has been successfully demonstrated. It has also been piloted in various applications. Fuel cells have realized partial commercialization; the economics of fuel cell technology require further enhancement for pervasive commercialization.

About PMEFCs

PEMFC is short for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane or Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell. The most salient feature of the PEMFC is its electrolyte, which in this case is a polymer membrane. The polymer membrane exhibits selective permeability, conducting protons or H+ ions. These protons are produced at the anode, very often with the aid of a catalyst. The fuel in this case is hydrogen, while the oxidant is oxygen. As hydrogen undergoes catalytic oxidation, and since the PEM does not conduct electrons, the hydrogen electrons travel via an external circuit, creating current flow that can be used to perform work. The electrons travel from the anode to the cathode, where they combine with oxygen and hydrogen ions to produce water. Due to the material construction of the PEM, these types of fuel cells are usually limited to operating temperatures of 60-80 deg C. At Anode: At Cathode: Overall Reaction:

About SOFCs

SOFC is short for Solid Oxide fuel cell. The most salient feature of the SOFC is its electrolyte, which in this case is a ceramic material; a nonporous, ion conducting oxide. The ceramic electrolyte in an SOFC conducts oxygen ions. These ions are produced at the cathode, very often with the aid of a catalyst. The fuel in this case can be hydrogen, while the oxidant is oxygen. As oxygen undergoes catalytic reduction, oxygen ions travel from the cathode to the anode, where they combine with hydrogen to produce water and liberate electrons. These electrons travel via an external circuit, traveling from anode to cathode, creating a current flow that can be used to perform work. These types of fuel cells usually require higher operating temperatures when compared to the PEMFC; in the range of 600-1000 deg C. At cathode:

A Comparison: PEMFC vs. SOFC Both, the PEMFC and the SOFC make use of a solid electrolyte, which is very effective in minimizing gas crossover. The PEMFC electrolyte is polymerbased, while the SOFC electrolyte is ceramic-based.

Whereas the SOFC operating temperature is in the range of 600-1000 deg C, the PEMFC operating temperature is in the range of 60-80 deg C. Thus, SOFCs are compatible with high temperature reforming reactions, while PEMFCs are not. The performance of both, the PEMFC and SOFC can be affected by certain species. Carbon monoxide, at the ppm level, will poison the PEM, whereas carbon monoxide can be a possible fuel source for the SOFC. Sulphur, at the ppm level, will poison the SOFC, while the effects of sulphur on the PEM are not fully understood just yet. Motivation and Background Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are highly efficient power generators, achieving up to 50-60% conversion efficiency, even at very small sizes (down to the household level 1 to 5 kW). PEMFCs have zero pollutant emissions when fuelled directly with hydrogen, and near zero emissions when coupled to reformers. These attributes make them potentially attractive for a variety of applications including electric vehicles and distributed generation and cogeneration of heat and power. Over the past few years, there have been intense efforts worldwide to develop low-cost PEMFC systems. While the primary emphasis has been on vehicle applications, co-generation can also be followed to extract even more efficiency. Precious Catalysts for POLYMER EXCHANGE MEMBRANE shoots up the costs

Splitting of the hydrogen molecule is relatively easy by using a platinum catalyst. Unfortunately however, splitting the oxygen molecule is more difficult, and this causes significant electric losses. An appropriate catalyst material for this process has not been discovered, and platinum is the best option. One promising catalyst that uses far less expensive materialsiron, nitrogen, and carbonhas long been known to promote the necessary reactions, but at rates that are far too slow to be practical. Recently, a Canadian research institute has dramatically increased the performance of this type of iron-based catalyst. Their material produces 99 A/cm3 at 0.8 volts, a key measurement of catalytic activity. That is 35 times better than the best nonprecious metal catalyst so far, and close to the Department of Energy's goal for fuel-cell catalysts: 130 A/cm3. It also matches the performance of typical platinum catalysts. The only problem at the moment is its durability because after only 100 hours of testing the reaction rate dropped to half. Another significant source of losses is the resistance of the membrane to proton flow, which is minimized by making it as thin as possible, on the order of 50 m. Co-generation: Cogeneration circuit along with the present PEMFC can bring up some efficiency by saving the energy which is sent to electronics of the vehicle and any other gadgets. Thus improving some efficiency, co-generation with direct hydrogen type PEMFC, can improve efficiency from 60% to 75%.

Ways to reduce cost of PEM Fuel cell: Using the method of Direct Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Reforming techniques and its Sub-systems can be eliminated, thus striking off a major cost for production. And introducing Co-generation methods reduces running costs of the vehicle, Bringing out a fine alternate for Platinum catalyst is the only under development that we are facing, soon researches will bring out strong Iron based catalysts that works better than platinum and low cost too.

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