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Title: CHP Fuel Cell Durability Demonstration - Final Report

Abstract

Plug Power has managed a demonstration project that has tested multiple units of its high-temperature, PEM fuel cell system in micro-combined heat and power (μ-CHP) applications in California. The specific objective of the demonstration project was to substantiate the durability of GenSys Blue, and, thereby, verify its technology and commercial readiness for the marketplace. In the demonstration project, Plug Power, in partnership with the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and Sempra, will execute two major tasks: • Task 1: Internal durability/reliability fleet testing. Six GenSys Blue units will be built and will undergo an internal test regimen to estimate failure rates. This task was modified to include 3 GenSys Blue units installed in a lab at UCI. • Task 2: External customer testing. Combined heat and power units will be installed and tested in real-world residential and/or light commercial end user locations in California.

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Plug Power
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Fuel Cell Technologies Office (EE-3F)
OSTI Identifier:
1160148
Report Number(s):
DOE-PLUG-EE0000480
DOE Contract Number:
EE0000480
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Petrecky, James, and Ashley, Christopher J. CHP Fuel Cell Durability Demonstration - Final Report. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.2172/1160148.
Petrecky, James, & Ashley, Christopher J. CHP Fuel Cell Durability Demonstration - Final Report. United States. doi:10.2172/1160148.
Petrecky, James, and Ashley, Christopher J. Mon . "CHP Fuel Cell Durability Demonstration - Final Report". United States. doi:10.2172/1160148. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1160148.
@article{osti_1160148,
title = {CHP Fuel Cell Durability Demonstration - Final Report},
author = {Petrecky, James and Ashley, Christopher J},
abstractNote = {Plug Power has managed a demonstration project that has tested multiple units of its high-temperature, PEM fuel cell system in micro-combined heat and power (μ-CHP) applications in California. The specific objective of the demonstration project was to substantiate the durability of GenSys Blue, and, thereby, verify its technology and commercial readiness for the marketplace. In the demonstration project, Plug Power, in partnership with the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and Sempra, will execute two major tasks: • Task 1: Internal durability/reliability fleet testing. Six GenSys Blue units will be built and will undergo an internal test regimen to estimate failure rates. This task was modified to include 3 GenSys Blue units installed in a lab at UCI. • Task 2: External customer testing. Combined heat and power units will be installed and tested in real-world residential and/or light commercial end user locations in California.},
doi = {10.2172/1160148},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jul 21 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Mon Jul 21 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}

Technical Report:

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  • The main objectives of this project were to investigate the effect of a series of potential impurities on fuel cell operation and on the particular components of the fuel cell MEA, to propose (where possible) mechanism(s) by which these impurities affected fuel cell performance, and to suggest strategies for minimizing these impurity effects. The negative effect on Pt/C was to decrease hydrogen surface coverage and hydrogen activation at fuel cell conditions. The negative effect on Nafion components was to decrease proton conductivity, primarily by replacing/reacting with the protons on the Bronsted acid sites of the Nafion. Even though already wellmore » known as fuel cell poisons, the effects of CO and NH3 were studied in great detail early on in the project in order to develop methodology for evaluating poisoning effects in general, to help establish reproducibility of results among a number of laboratories in the U.S. investigating impurity effects, and to help establish lower limit standards for impurities during hydrogen production for fuel cell utilization. New methodologies developed included (1) a means to measure hydrogen surface concentration on the Pt catalyst (HDSAP) before and after exposure to impurities, (2) a way to predict conductivity of a Nafion membranes exposed to impurities using a characteristic acid catalyzed reaction (methanol esterification of acetic acid), and, more importantly, (3) application of the latter technique to predict conductivity on Nafion in the catalyst layer of the MEA. H2-D2 exchange was found to be suitable for predicting hydrogen activation of Pt catalysts. The Nafion (ca. 30 wt%) on the Pt/C catalyst resides primarily on the external surface of the C support where it blocks significant numbers of micropores, but only partially blocks the pore openings of the meso- and macro-pores wherein lie the small Pt particles (crystallites). For this reason, even with 30 wt% Nafion on the Pt/C, few Pt sites are blocked and, hence, are accessible for hydrogen activation. Of the impurities studied, CO, NH3, perchloroethylene (also known as tetrachloroethylene), tetrahydrofuran, diborane, and metal cations had significant negative effects on the components in a fuel cell. While CO has no effect on the Nafion, it significantly poisons the Pt catalyst by adsorbing and blocking hydrogen activation. The effect can be reversed with time once the flow of CO is stopped. NH3 has no effect on the Pt catalyst at fuel cell conditions; it poisons the proton sites on Nafion (by forming NH4+ cations), decreasing drastically the proton conductivity of Nafion. This poisoning can slowly be reversed once the flow of NH3 is stopped. Perchloroethylene has a major effect on fuel cell performance. Since it has little/no effect on Nafion conductivity, its poisoning effect is on the Pt catalyst. However, this effect takes place primarily for the Pt catalyst at the cathode, since the presence of oxygen is very important for this poisoning effect. Tetrahydrofuran was shown not to impact Nafion conductivity; however, it does affect fuel cell performance. Therefore, its primary effect is on the Pt catalyst. The effect of THF on fuel cell performance is reversible. Diborane also can significant affect fuel cell performance. This effect is reversible once diborane is removed from the inlet streams. H2O2 is not an impurity usually present in the hydrogen or oxygen streams to a fuel cell. However, it is generated during fuel cell operation. The presence of Fe cations in the Nafion due to system corrosion and/or arising from MEA production act to catalyze the severe degradation of the Nafion by H2O2. Finally, the presence of metal cation impurities (Na+, Ca 2+, Fe3+) in Nafion from MEA preparation or from corrosion significantly impacts its proton conductivity due to replacement of proton sites. This effect is not reversible. Hydrocarbons, such as ethylene, might be expected to affect Pt or Nafion but do not at a typical fuel cell temperature of 80oC. In the presence of large quantities of hydrogen on the anode side, ethylene is converted to ethane which is very nonreactive. More surprisingly, even more reactive hydrocarbons such as formic acid and acetaldehyde do not appear to react enough with the strong Bronsted acid sites on Nafion at such low temperatures to affect Nafion conductivity properties. These results clearly identify a number of impurities which can have a detrimental impact on fuel cell performance, although some are reversible. Obviously, fuel cells exposed to impurities/poisons which are reversible can recover their original performance capabilities once the impurity flow is stopped. Impurities with irreversible effects should be either minimized in the feed streams, if possible, or new catalytic materials or ion conductors will need to be used to minimize their impact.« less
  • This program is focused on the experimental determination of the effects of key hydrogen side impurities on the performance of PEM fuel cells. Experimental data has been leveraged to create mathematical models that predict the performance of PEM fuel cells that are exposed to specific impurity streams. These models are validated through laboratory experimentation and utilized to develop novel technologies for mitigating the effects of contamination on fuel cell performance. Results are publicly disseminated through papers, conference presentations, and other means.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researches and develops distributed generation technology for the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Distributed Energy Program. This report describes installation and operation of one such distributed generation system, a United Technology Corporation fuel cell located at the National Transportation Research Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Data collected from June 2003 to June of 2004, provides valuable insight regarding fuel cell-grid compatibility and the cost-benefit of the fuel cell operation. The NTRC fuel cell included a high-heat recovery option so that use of thermal energy improves project economics and improves system efficiency to 59%more » year round. During the year the fuel cell supplied a total of 834MWh to the NTRC and provided 300MBtu of hot water. Installation of the NTRC fuel cell was funded by the Distributed Energy Program with partial funding from the Department of Defense's Climate Change Fuel Cell Buy Down Program, administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory. On-going operational expenses are funded by ORNL's utility budget and are paid from operational cost savings. Technical information and the benefit-cost of the fuel cell are both evaluated in this report and sister reports.« less
  • In Europe, ten 200 kW phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs) produced by ONSI (PC25) are currently in operation. Their operators collaborate closely in the European Fuel Cell Users Group (EFCUG). The experience gained from trial operation by the four German operators - HEAG, HGW/HEW, Thyssengas and Ruhrgas - coincides with that of the other European operators. This experience can generally be regarded as favourable. With a view to using fuel cells in combined heat and power generation (CHP), the project described in this report, which was carried out in cooperation with the municipal utility of Bochum and Gasunie of themore » Netherlands, aimed at gaining experience with the PC 25 in field operation under the specific operating conditions prevailing in Europe. The work packages included heat-controlled operation, examination of plant behavior with varying gas properties and measurement of emissions under dynamic load conditions. The project received EU funding under the JOULE programme.« less
  • The large scale application of fuel cell energy systems, electrochemical energy conversion devices, to facility operations, could result in significant benefits to the public and to the U.S. Air Force. This report summarizes the advantages and potential applications of fuel cells on an Air Force base, highlights the pertinent operational characteristics of a fuel cell, identifies the ongoing governmental and industrial programs that are aimed at commercializing this technology as early as the mid 1980's, and recommends and outlines a U.S. Air Force On-Site Fuel Cell Field Test Demonstration Program Plan.