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Catalytic Microheater for Cassette Type Fuel Cell


Development of a Multifunctional Catalytic Microheater from Metal Fiber Mesh Sheet for Portable Cassette-Type Fuel Cell Stacks

Tech Area / Field

  • MAT-ALL/High Performance Metals and Alloys/Materials
  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry
  • NNE-FCN/Fuel Conversion/Non-Nuclear Energy

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov

Supporting institutes

  • TsNIIChermet (Ferrous Metallurgy), Russia, Moscow\nBoreskov Institute of Catalysis, Russia, Novosibirsk reg., Akademgorodok


  • University of Connecticut / School of Engineering, USA, CT, Storrs\nInternational Association for Hydrogen Energy, USA, FL, Coral Gables

Project summary

Nowadays, numerous research groups and companies are carrying out large-scale investigations in the field of hydrogen power, including development and improvement of fuel cells (FC) of different types. FCs produce only water, thus being environmentally pure sources of energy.

FC commercialization allowed to replace storage batteries with fuel cells for power supply of the consumer that includes portable equipment of different purpose including mobile application.

Portable power plants for mobile application should have, along with high efficiency, small weight-dimension characteristics.

Power plants (PP) based on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) of cassette type meet the above requirements and are the most preferable type of power plants for this market segment. Commercialization of such power plants at the given stage is rather complicated because of low dynamic characteristics leading to significant time losses while start-up. In addition, power plants of this type have a limited functionability within a wide range of load changes and in the process of repeated startup-shutdown cycles.

The Project goal is development of a multifunctional catalytic electric microheater made of a plate-type porous material to be integrated into the fuel cell stack (FCS). The said material is manufactured by cold pressing in the matrix from spirallized wire with high specific electric resistance to provide high heating-up rates while FCS start-up. In addition, the wire support is made of a new Fe-Cr-Al-based alloy with rare-earth element additives, and a catalytic coating is applied to said support that provides oxidation of combustible components of CS anode line waste gases in the operation process.

Within the Project frames, an alloy on Fe-Cr-Al basis with stabilizing Ti, Zr and rare-earth element additives will be developed that would possess high specific electric resistance and thermal stability at temperatures up to 11000 C in oxidizing and reducing gas media. In addition, the alloy will possess high plastic characteristics, thus allowing to manufacture wire from this alloy not less than 50 µm in diameter for subsequent spirallization.

One multifunctional catalytic microheater, as well as several microheaters can be installed in the fuel cell stack. The diameter of spirallized wire, the step of spirallization, the porosity of microheater plates and geometrical parameters thereof can vary depending on needed specific electric power and specific surface value to provide the preset volumetric oxidation rate of combustible components of anode line waste gases.

At the Project final stage, a microheater mathematical model will be developed, calculations aimed at design optimization will be carried out, and a series of microheaters with different specific electric power will be manufactured.

While the Project implementation, the following results will be obtained:

  1. The Fe-Cr-Al-based alloy with Ti, Zr and rare-earth element additives will be developed, the manufacturing technique of the wire with the diameter up to 50 µm from said alloy will be elaborated, manufacturing conditions of wire spirallization and cold pressing of the microheater porous plates from spirallized wire within a wide range of porosity change will be worked out, the microheater porous plates in the electric heating mode will be studied.
  2. A composition of the porous catalytic coating based on complex oxides of transition metals will be developed, the technique of chemical thermal treatment and coating application to the microheater porous plates will be worked out, catalytic activity of the microheater porous plates in the oxidation mode will be studied.
  3. A microheater mathematical model will be developed, its characteristics in the electric heating mode while startups-shutdowns and in the oxidation mode of combustible components of FCS anode line waste gases will be optimized.
  4. An optimal composition of high-temperature solder will be developed, and the soldering technique of the microheater porous plates with a preset porosity to the ceramic planar substrate will be worked out.
  5. A unified microheater design will be developed, and a series of microheaters with different specific electric power will be manufactured.

Combination of knowledge and skills of highly professional specialists in the area of material science, fuel cell-based power plant and catalysis technologies will promote a successful Project implementation.

The proposed program of works will allow to redirect the activities of scientists, engineers and technicians involved in defense works into applied research in the area of fuel cell-based power plant technologies that meet present-day environmental requirements. Cooperation with foreign Collaborators will facilitate integration of Russian scientists involved in defense works into the world scientific community.

Multifunctional catalytic microheaters can be applied, besides portable solid fuel cells of cassette type, in FCs of various types as starting heaters to provide quick start-up of power plants with different power ranges, as well as electrocatalytic afterburner elements of ICE combustion products.

The Project role of foreign Collaborators will consist in information exchange, discussions of research results and consultations on application of the technology being developed abroad to solve similar problems.


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