Al Shakhshir, S. and Berning, T., "Employing Hot Wire Anemometry to Directly Measure the Water Balance of a Commercial Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack," SAE Int. J. Alt. Power. 5(1):183-188, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-1191.
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC’s) are currently being commercialized for various applications ranging from automotive (e.g. the Toyota Mirai) to stationary such as powering telecom backup units. In PEMFC’s, oxygen from air is internally combined with hydrogen to form water and produce electricity and waste heat. One critical technical problem of these fuel cells is still the water management: the proton exchange membrane in the center of these fuel cells has to be hydrated in order to stay proton-conductive while on the other hand excessive liquid water can lead to cell flooding and increased degradation rates. Clearly, a fundamental understanding of all aspects of water management in PEMFC is imperative. This includes the fuel cell water balance, i.e. which fraction of the product water leaves the fuel cell via the anode channels versus the cathode channel. Our research group is currently developing a novel technique to obtain an ad-hoc and real time electrical signal of the fuel cell water balance by employing hot wire anemometry. In this work, the hot wire sensor is placed in the anode outlet of a commercial air-cooled fuel cell stack by Ballard Power Systems, and the voltage signal received gives valuable insight into heat and mass transfer phenomena in a PEMFC.