Maldistribution of fuel across the cells of a fuel cell stack is an issue that can contribute to poor cell performance and possible cell failure. It has been proposed that an array of microvalves could promote even distribution of fuel across a fuel cell stack. A piezoelectric microvalve has been developed for this purpose. This valve can be tuned to a nominal flow rate (and failure position) from which the actuator would either increase or decrease the flow rate and fuel. The valve can successfully regulate the flow of fuel from 0.7 to 1.1 slpm of hydrogen in the range of temperatures from 80° to 100°C and has been tested over pressure drops from 0.5 to 1 psi. A bank of these valves is currently being tested in a four-cell stack at the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Piezoelectric Microvalve for Flow Control in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
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Bucci, BA, Vipperman, JS, Clark, W, Hensel, JP, Thornton, J, & Kim, S. "Piezoelectric Microvalve for Flow Control in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells." Proceedings of the ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Advanced Energy Systems. Chicago, Illinois, USA. November 5–10, 2006. pp. 329-335. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2006-14064
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