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FLOWING ELECTROLYTE FUEL CELL WITH IMPROVED PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY

United States Patent Application

20170187054
A1
View the Complete Application at the US Patent & Trademark Office
A flowing electrolyte fuel cell system design (DHCFC-Flow) is provided. The use of a flowing oxygen-saturated electrolyte in a fuel cell offers a significant enhancement in the cell performance characteristics. The mass transfer and reaction kinetics of the superoxide/peroxide/oxide ion (mobile oxygen ion species) in the fuel cell are enhanced by recirculating an oxidizing gas-saturated electrolyte. Recirculating oxygen-saturated electrolyte through a liquid channel enhances the maximal current observed in a fuel cell. The use of a oxygen saturated electrolyte ensures that the reaction kinetics of the oxygen reduction reaction are fast and the use of convection ameliorates concentration gradients and the diffusion-limited maximum current density. The superoxide ion is generated in situ by the reduction of the oxygen dissolved in the gaseous electrolyte. Also, a dual porosity membrane allows the uniform flow of fuel (e.g., methane) on the fuel side, without allowing phase mixing. The capillary pressure for liquid intrusion into the gas phase and vice versa is quite large, estimated to be 1-10 psi. This makes it easier to control the fluctuations in gas/liquid velocity which might otherwise lead to phase mixing and the loss of fuel cell performance. In one variation, a dual-porosity membrane structure is incorporated in the system to allow uniform flow of fuel and prevent mixing of fuel with a liquid electrolyte.
Desai, Divyaraj (Sunnyvale, CA), Vedharathinam, Vedasri (San Jose, CA), Sheridan, Martin Joseph (Redwood City, CA), Pattekar, Ashish V. (Cupertino, CA), Eldershaw, Craig (Belmont, CA), Padmarajan, Rajesh Kumar (Mountain View, CA), Iftime, Gabriel (Dublin, CA)
Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated (Palo Alto CA)
14/ 981,104
December 28, 2015
PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY [0001] This invention was made with U.S. Government support under government contract DE-AR0000500 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)/ARPA-E under the Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems (REBELS) program. The Government has certain rights in this invention.