Carbonate Fuel Diagnostics
Methods of Diagnostics of Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells.
Tech Area / Field
- NNE-MEC/Miscellaneous Energy Conversion/Non-Nuclear Energy
8 Project completed
Senior Project Manager
Komarkov D A
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov
- International Fuel Cells, USA, CT, South Windsor\nArgonne National Laboratory (ANL), USA, IL, Argonne
Project summaryFuel cell industrial technology mastering demands the manufacture to be equipped with control and measurement means. They are necessary for manufacturing and maintenance of operating fuel cells and fuel cell stacks. The expertise in development of the electrochemical generator with molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center (RFNC) also justifies to this.
Electrochemical impedance method is one of the most informative and one of the most available methods to achieve these goals. The analysis of MCFC impedance characteristics permits to determine the limiting stages of the electrochemical reaction, to define the matrix-electrolyte plate state, to control important fuel cell parameters, such as electrolyte resistance, the rate of current-generation reaction and value of the electrodes exchange current. Conduction of measurements in different fuel cell modes gives an opportunity to control the pores flooding with electrolyte and to check the condition of the three-phase "gas-electrolyte-metal" interface. All these methods may become the base for the development of diagnostic methods for fuel cells and fuel cell stacks.
The impedance measurements, especially in the infra-low frequencies areas, are used actively in such important electrochemical sphere, as laboratory researches and development of chemical current sources. But during series industrial research work on current sources, and especially research work on electrochemical systems with molten electrolytes, impedance measuring devices are to meet the requirements of operability with very low Ohm electrochemical objects. For example, the value of MCFC impedance module with ordinary 1m2 active area electrodes is 0.0001-0.001 Ohm. While measuring electrochemical impedance of such objects, the demanded value of current, flowing through it, is 10-100 A. Besides, for MCFC diagnostics under industrial conditions appropriate electro-measuring equipment must have high resolution during measuring electrochemical impedance during one or two periods of influence of object harmonic polarization. The known impedometers for electrochemical researches in infra-low frequencies, such as the measuring complex "Electrochemical interface 1286" and "Analyzer of frequency characteristics 1250" of Schlumberger Electronics Corp. don't provide performance to meet the above mentioned demands.
RFNS's specialists consider that they can realize the development of diagnostic methods of electrochemical properties and technical characteristics of fuel cells and their components. So, to achieve this goal, it is necessary to create a complex of electro-measuring equipment to work with operating electrochemical powerful-current devices in "in situ" mode. Complex being designed is the automated informative measuring system (AIMS), including two basic sets. The first set is a fast-operating precision measuring convertor, which converts research object's impedance into the electric voltage signal. The second set is the vector-scalar reformer for selection the parameters being searched out from the information complex signal. That reformer uses the analogue-to-digital conversion of the measured signal and correlation methods of procession the results of measurements using the programmed mode. Electro-measuring equipment being designed will have the necessary technical characteristics and meet the above mentioned diagnostic complex requirements.
The impedance measurements on the base of AIMS being designed can be also used while analyzing operability of separate MCFC components:
- for control of porous electrodes structure;
- to determine the degree of burning out the pore-maker during the electrodes production;
- for express-diagnostics of the structure changes in porous electrodes;
- for control of the binding material burning-out degree, ions and electrons conductivity of the matrix-electrolyte plate (МЕР), МЕР homogeneity, and it's structure changes in the course of manufacture and technological starting-up of electrochemical generator.
As a result of this project realization a diagnostic system within a measurement complex will be created and introduced for conduction of impedance research on fuel cells, and methodical software for obtaining information on electrochemical properties and technical parameters of MCFC will be created.
The team includes highly qualified specialists in theoretical and experimental electrochemistry, specialists in sphere of development of measurement methodics of electric values, specialists in electronics and development of software.
While working on the project, it is supposed to discuss technical issues and exchange technical information with collaborators. Conduction of joint research is possible.
There is a preliminary agreement on collaboration with:
1. Dr. Alan P. Sylvester
Manager of the Applied Energy Program
Technology Integration Department
Sandia National Labs
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0749
Phone  844-8151
Fax:  844-7354.
2. Richard Goldstein
Fuel Cell Program
Generation and Storage Division
3412 Hillwiew Ave.,
Porlo Alto, CA 94303 USA
Fax [41 5] 855-2295.
3. Vince Petraglia
Director of Operations
M-C Power Corporation
8040 S.Madison Street
Burr Ridge, Illinois 60521-5808
Fax  986-8 153
Phone  986-8040.
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