283964 Development of Cathode Air Filters for PEM Fuel Cells Using Microfibrous Entrapped Sorbents

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Abhijeet Phalle, Department of Chemical Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn, AL and Bruce Tatarchuk, Chemical Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

The performance of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is degraded significantly as a result of poisoning of cathode catalyst by airborne contaminants, in particular SO2 and NOx in trace levels. Removal of air contaminants by adsorptive filtration is economical and easier way to mitigate cathode air contamination .This work thus aims at designing of adsorptive air filters having high adsorption capacity and high contacting efficiency for removal of SO2 and NO2 along with lower pressure drop across a filter. MnOx/Al2O3 prepared by deposition precipitation route with MnSO4 as a precursor showed the highest saturation (124.1 mg of/cc) and breakthrough capacity (33.7 mg/cc) for SO2. Particularly, it showed 60% higher saturation capacity than commercial KMnO4/Al2O3 sorbent. Granular PICA activated carbon was found to have the highest breakthrough capacity of 62.3 mg/cc and saturation capacity of 139.5 mg/cc for NO2. Thus, two layers of filter media are required to efficiently remove both SO2 and NOx.

For packed beds, use of smaller size particles give high single pass removal efficiency but generally at the expense of higher pressure drop, which increases parasitic power loss. Microfibrous media (MFM) prepared by entrapping micron size particles in sinter-locked network of bicomponent polymer fibers have been shown to give higher contacting efficiency with the lower pressure drop. Different filter configurations such as composite bed, pleated filters can be prepared with the use of MFM and their comparison with the conventional packed bed will be discussed in detail in order to find the optimal design of a filter. In one such study, the composite bed consisting of packed bed of MnOx/Al2O3 (1.6cm thick) followed by thin polisher layer of microfibrous media (4mm) yielded ~200% higher breakthrough capacity for SO2 than that for the packed bed of same sorbent.

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