Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Capabilities

fuel cell components, photo

The hydrogen and fuel cell laboratories at the FSEC Energy Research Center at the University of Central Florida are one of the nation’s highest caliber research labs of its kind. The equipment is used to conduct hydrogen research on production, storage, utilization and sensors, and fuel cell research on membranes, fabrication, mass transport, surface properties and electrochemical diagnostics.

 

Fuel Cell Lab

Round fuel cell test stand with eight vaccuum "hoods" (looks like an octopus), capable of testing eight fuel cell membranes at a time; A researcher to the left and right of the unit. Photo.

The Fuel Cell Lab is devoted to assembly and characterization of electrochemical devices such as fuel cells and flow batteries. In this lab, nearly every component of a fuel cell can be fabricated, from the membrane, to the catalyst ink, to the final membrane electrode assembly (MEA). Once an MEA has been assembled, it can be tested for performance or durability using single-cell test stands, or a one-of-a-kind multi-station durability test station. During these tests, the fuel cell performance or durability is evaluated as a function of temperature, gas concentrations and relative humidity. The focus at this lab is to develop techniques that reduce membrane degradation in a fuel cell application.

In addition to fuel cell testing in this lab, flow battery research is conducted to improve the high current performance of the all-vanadium flow battery. The membranes that were developed for fuel cell applications may also find use in the all-vanadium flow battery system. This research positions the Energy Research Center at UCF to develop the next generation of energy storage systems for grid-scale applications.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Membrane manufacturing
  • Membrane testing
    • Conductivity
    • Ex-situ durability
    • Stress-strain
  • Electrode ink manufacturing
  • Electrode ink application methods
    • Direct spray
    • Decal transfer
  • Fuel cell testing capabilities
    • Performance of single cells (up to 50A)
    • Durability (cycling and OCV hold)
  • Analytical techniques
    • LSV
    • CV
    • IR-camera for LCO (give example images)
  • Flow battery testing
    • Vanadium flow battery results

Hydrogen Dry Lab

Analyzing equipment on tables within lab and three researchers in background, photo.The Hydrogen Dry Lab houses many of the analytical tools that are required for successful completion of any research project. These tools enable researchers to evaluate the physical properties of the research materials, from physical morphology to chemical stability. Some of the projects that have been supported in this lab include: hydrogen sorption in metal hydrides, fluoride analysis from fuel cell effluent water, oxygen reduction reaction rates of novel fuel cell catalysts, and thermal stability of electrolyte membranes.

  • TM 3000 SEM
  • Ion chromatography systems for anion and cation analysis
  • TGA-MS
    • Polymer decomposition and analysis
  • DSC
    • Thermal transitions of polymers
  • Gas chromatography
  • Rotating disc electrode
    • Ideal for characterizing catalyst ORR activity
  • FTIR
  • UV-Vis
    • Used for determining state of charge of vanadium flow battery system

Chemical Synthesis Lab

Three hydrogen researchers at different stations in hydrogen wet laboratory.

In the Chemical Synthesis Lab, also known as the Hydrogen Wet Lab, UCF researchers have:

  • Developed hydrogen chemochromic tape
  • Synthesized novel SPEEK membranes for fuel cell applications
  • Developed approach for conversion of biomass to diesel through Fischer-Tropsch gasification.

Cryogenic Hydrogen Lab

Researcher Jong Baik next to a hydrogen densification experiment in a lab, photoIn the Cryogenic Hydrogen Lab, UCF researchers have developed a lab-scale hydrogen liquefaction and zero boil-off storage system, and a highly-efficient GM and Stirling-type pulse tube refrigerator for space application.

UCF researchers have also:

  • Developed an approach to liquefy hydrogen efficiently
  • Developed a cryocooler-cooled hydrogen liquefier and cryogen management system.

Researchers have extensively explored liquid hydrogen-related systems engineering in all aspects of thermal design, structural analysis, fabrications, and testings, including:

      • Cryogenic propellant densification with integrated cryocooler at NASA KSC (NASA GRC)
      • Cryocooler integrated zero-boil-off densified liquid hydrogen storage tank (NASA GRC)
      • Liquid hydrogen calorimeter test and zero-boil-off test (NASA KSC)
      • Thermal analysis of NASA KSC GODU liquid hydrogen with an integrated refrigerator.