Cost-Efficient Cathode Air Path for PEM Fuel Cell Systems 2020-01-1176
Fuel cell technology can play a major role in reducing transportation-related emissions, especially in heavy-duty, long-haul applications. Consequent transfer of technology from air supply systems for combustion engines to cathode air paths serves as an enabler for necessary system cost reduction. To achieve the required system lifetime, the supply of clean air is essential. Gases like NOx, SO2 and NH3 poison the catalyst, leading to increased stack degradation rates. Effective removal with functionalized activated carbons enhances the catalyst´s lifetime. Research on real-life concentrations of these contaminants under different driving patterns and road profiles enables knowledge-based design of cathode air filter elements. To prevent flooding of components like air filter, humidifier, or stack, water separators are integrated at different position inside the system. Plastic air ducts with integrated sensors and flaps required to manage the air flow connect the different functional components. Broadband silencers are applied to reduce noises inside the system, e.g. generated by the compressor. Essential components like humidifier and air-cooler can easily be incorporated into the system. In the cathode air exhaust path, an additional water separator is applied to protect turbine blades and to prevent emission of splash water from the tailpipe. The consistent transfer of technology from air supply systems for combustion engines to cathode air paths enables cost-, noise and packaging-optimized, plausible system concepts with enhanced energy efficiency.