Electrochemical Hydrogen Compressor

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The Electrochemical Hydrogen Compressor EHC was evaluated against DOE applications for compressing hydrogen at automobile filling stations, in future hydrogen pipelines and as a commercial replacement for conventional diaphragm hydrogen compressors. It was also evaluated as a modular replacement for the compressors used in petrochemical refineries. If the EHC can be made inexpensive, reliable and long lived then it can satisfy all these applications save pipelines where the requirements for platinum catalyst exceeds the annual world production. The research performed did not completely investigate Molybdenum as a hydrogen anode or cathode, it did show that photoetched 316 stainless steel is ... continued below

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Bloomfield, David P. & MacKenzie, Brian S. May 1, 2006.

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This report is part of the collection entitled: Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 42 times , with 4 in the last month . More information about this report can be viewed below.

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The Electrochemical Hydrogen Compressor EHC was evaluated against DOE applications for compressing hydrogen at automobile filling stations, in future hydrogen pipelines and as a commercial replacement for conventional diaphragm hydrogen compressors. It was also evaluated as a modular replacement for the compressors used in petrochemical refineries. If the EHC can be made inexpensive, reliable and long lived then it can satisfy all these applications save pipelines where the requirements for platinum catalyst exceeds the annual world production. The research performed did not completely investigate Molybdenum as a hydrogen anode or cathode, it did show that photoetched 316 stainless steel is inadequate for an EHC. It also showed that: molybdenum bipolar plates, photochemical etching processes, and Gortex Teflon seals are too costly for a commercial EHC. The use of carbon paper in combination with a perforated thin metal electrode demonstrated adequate anode support strength, but is suspect in promoting galvanic corrosion. The nature of the corrosion mechanisms are not well understood, but locally high potentials within the unit cell package are probably involved. The program produced a design with an extraordinary high cell pitch, and a very low part count. This is one of the promising aspects of the redesigned EHC. The development and successful demonstration of the hydraulic cathode is also important. The problem of corrosion resistant metal bipolar plates is vital to the development of an inexpensive, commercial PEM fuel cell. Our research suggests that there is more to the corrosion process in fuel cells and electrochemical compressors than simple, steady state, galvanic stability. It is an important area for scientific investigation. The experiments and analysis conducted lead to several recommended future research directions. First, we need a better understanding of the corrosion mechanisms involved. The diagnosis of experimental cells with titration to determine the loss of membrane active sites is recommended. We suspect that the corrosion includes more than simple galvanic mechanisms. The mechanisms involved in this phenomenon are poorly understood. Shunt currents at hydraulic cathode ports were problematic, but are not difficult to cure. In addition to corrosion there is evidence of high component resistivity. This may be due to the deposition of organic compounds, which may be produced electrochemically on the surface of the metal support screens that contact carbon gas diffusion layers (GDLs) or catalyst supports. An investigation of possible electro-organic sythesis mechanisms with emphasis on oxalates formation is warranted. The contaminated cell parts can be placed in an oxidizing atmosphere at high temperature and the weight loss can be observed. This would reveal the existence of organic compounds. Investigation into the effects of conductivity enhancers such as carbon microlayers on supporting carbon paper is also needed. Corrosion solutions should be investigated such as surface passivation of 316 SS parts using nitric acid. Ultra thin silane/siloxane polymer coatings should be tried. These may be especially useful in conjunction with metal felt replacement of carbon paper. A simple cure for the very high, localized corrosion of the anode might be to diffusion bond the metal electrode support screen to bipolar plate. This will insure uniform resistance perpendicular to the plane of the cell and eliminate some of the dependence of the resistance on high stack compression. Alternative materials should be explored. Alternatives to carbon in the cell may be helpful in any context. In particular, alternatives to carbon paper GDLs such as metal felts and alternatives to carbon supports for Pt such as TiC and TiB2 might also be worthwhile and would be helpful to fuel cells as well. Some alternative to the metals we used in the cell, Mo and 316 SS, are potentially useful. These include Al/Mg/Si alloys. Corrosion resistant materials such as Nb and Mo might prove useful as cladding materials that can be hot stamped. Several cost reduction areas should be explored. Such as the water pumps used in pressure washers. The power consumption of these pumps is a concern, but their cost is surprisingly low. Two components of unit cell construction proved to be extremely costly. The first of these is photoetching, where selective etching of alloys present a corrodible composition in the cell. An alternative to photoetching may be hot stamping. An investigation of materials for hot stamping and the dimension tolerance attainable with this process should be first on the agenda. Hot stamping of clad materials should also be studied. Photoetched electrode supports can be replaced with expanded metal screens (Dexmet). The other high cost area is the use of Gortex TFE seals. Analytic’s prior experience with Acrylic seals shows they can probably replace TFE.

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  • Report No.: DOE-ER-84220-9
  • Grant Number: FG02-05ER84220
  • DOI: 10.2172/883089 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 883089
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc874137

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • May 1, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 3 p.m.

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Bloomfield, David P. & MacKenzie, Brian S. Electrochemical Hydrogen Compressor, report, May 1, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874137/: accessed April 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.