389651 Polymer-Based Manufacturing of Microscale Fuel Cells

Monday, November 17, 2014
Galleria Exhibit Hall (Hilton Atlanta)
Adam S. Hollinger1, Jason Williams2 and Gary Smith2, (1)Department of Mechanical Engineering, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Erie, PA, (2)Plastics Engineering Technology, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Erie, PA

The development of microscale fuel cells has been motivated by the increasing demand for high power density, portable electronic devices (i.e., smartphones, tablet computers) with a fast recharge [1].  In comparison to rechargeable batteries, microscale fuel cells demonstrate superior energy densities and the potential to provide longer off-grid run times [2].  Additionally, fuel cells enable nearly instantaneous recharging by refilling or replacing a liquid-based fuel cartridge.  Here we will demonstrate polymer-based manufacturing of a lightweight, microscale fuel cell for portable electronic applications.

At the macroscale, fuel cells are traditionally assembled manually in layer-by-layer fashion followed by clamping the layers between metal plates.  Scaling to larger systems involves the stacking of an increasing number of layers, requiring increasingly heavy clamping constructions to secure the stack without leaks.  We demonstrate an alternative approach to fuel cell manufacturing which utilizes polymeric layers to eliminate the heavy clamping structures needed in traditional fuel cell stacks [3].  This approach enables much smaller, lighter structures and thinner stacks, which is attractive in portable applications.  

[1] E. Kjeang, N. Djilali, D. Sinton, Journal of Power Sources, 186 (2009) 353-369.

[2] C. Potera, Environmental Health Perspectives, 115 (2007) A38-A41.

[3] A.S. Hollinger, P.J.A. Kenis, Journal of Power Sources, 240 (2013) 486-493.

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