Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Ang, Simon

Abstract

Under the growing pressure to veer from fossil fuel use to more environmentally conscious energy options, fuel cells of all kinds are coming to the forefront as viable options to replace part of fossil fuels’ present role. This effort not only includes automobiles, but fuel cells are also emerging as options for emergency generators, modern war ships and submarines, portable charging devices, and space applications. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are likely to dominate the smaller or more domestic applications of fuel cell technology. For the membrane, DuPont’s polymer Nafion was used in varying sizes. Using small testing platforms of 20mm by 20mm membranes, we are able to test differing material setups in the fuel cells and differing platinum concentrations on the electrodes’ surfaces to analyze the effects on open circuit voltage levels, short circuit cell ability, general power output, and peak power capabilities of the cell. The results show a clear increase in current capacity due to platinum integration, although manual addition of platinum still needs to be refined to be able to be fully utilized. The trouble that comes from manually applying platinum is the risk for clogging the fuel cell and hampering the conversion process within the cell.

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