Intake Air Conditioning for Fuel Cell Systems
As part of the rise of E-mobility, fuel cells continue to expand as an alternative powertrain option for a variety of industries (e.g. automotive, marine, locomotive, and material handling). At first glance, the requirements for a fuel cell (FC) air intake system are no different from a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE). The purpose in both powertrain systems is maximizing long driving range, with acceptable pressure losses. While these traditional objectives remain important, fuel cell powertrain requires additional protection & functionality to obtain best performance of the FC stack. The first is protection against the ambient environment. Tailpipe emissions, industrial exhaust and road dust contribute to small particles (PM1.0, PM10) with high concentrations and hazardous gases/ odors like NOx, SO2, H2S, Hydrocarbons, Ammonia. An ICE air intake system is well equipped to deal with the wear and tear of atmospheric particles but offers no protection against the poisonous gasses. Part one of this paper will discuss the harmful impact of these hazardous gases to the fuel cell stack and present filtration solution with chemical protection. The second is additional �air conditioning� required for the FC air intake system. For an ICE the humidity of the intake air is an input variable for the air/fuel mixture but is not necessary for combustion to occur. The opposite is true for a FC system; in order to maintain the chemical reaction the proton exchange membrane must retain moisture to achieve the best energy density and lifetime performance. The second part of this paper will discuss the effects of humidity on FC performance and present technology of a passive humidification effectiveness for FC systems. The conclusion of this paper will highlight the growing applications for FC systems, filtration technologies for air intake system to maintain high performance over the life of the Fuel Cell.