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Water Outlet Control Mechanism for Fuel Cell System Operation in Variable Gravity Environments

Self-Regulating Water Separation System for Fuel Cells

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Technology Marketing SummaryInnovators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) have patented a self-regulated water separator that provides centrifugal separation of fuel cell product water from oxidant gas. The innovation uses the flow energy of the fuel cell’s two-phase water and oxidant flow stream, rather than actively controlled electric motors, to augment separation efficiency.DescriptionUnlike some product water removal systems, the JSC technology does not depend on hydrophobic or hydrophilic surfaces, which are subject to fouling and gradual deterioration in performance. By eliminating the need for specialized surfaces, active control systems, and motor-driven components, the innovators have developed a separator that is simpler and more reliable than similar systems. JSC has received patent number 7,250,075 for this technology.Benefits
  • Versatile: Functions in the presence or absence of gravitation and in any orientation in a gravitational field
  • Reliable: Improves system reliability with to self-regulating features
  • Straightforward: Eliminates the needs for active control systems and motor-driven components
  • Clean: Removes fouling effects associated with hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces
Applications and Industries
  • Spacecraft fuel cell power systems
  • Specialty self-contained remote power systems
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 7,250,075
Patent
7,250,075
Water outlet control mechanism for fuel cell system operation in variable gravity environments
A self-regulated water separator provides centrifugal separation of fuel cell product water from oxidant gas. The system uses the flow energy of the fuel cell's two-phase water and oxidant flow stream and a regulated ejector or other reactant circulation pump providing the two-phase fluid flow. The system further uses a means of controlling the water outlet flow rate away from the water separator that uses both the ejector's or reactant pump's supply pressure and a compressibility sensor to provide overall control of separated water flow either back to the separator or away from the separator.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 07/31/2007
Issued
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
DevelopmentAvailable12/27/201001/03/2011

Contact NASA About This Technology

To: Michelle Lewis<michelle.p.lewis@nasa.gov>