NASA PEMFC Development Background and History
- Hoberecht, Mark
- January 25, 2011.
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- NASA has been developing proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cell power systems for the past decade, as an upgraded technology to the alkaline fuel cells which presently provide power for the Shuttle Orbiter. All fuel cell power systems consist of one or more fuel cell stacks in combination with appropriate balance-of-plant hardware. Traditional PEM fuel cells are characterized as flow-through, in which recirculating reactant streams remove product water from the fuel cell stack. NASA recently embarked on the development of non-flow-through fuel cell systems, in which reactants are dead-ended into the fuel cell stack and product water is removed by internal wicks. This simplifies the fuel cell power system by eliminating the need for pumps to provide reactant circulation, and mechanical water separators to remove the product water from the recirculating reactant streams. By eliminating these mechanical components, the resulting fuel cell power system has lower mass, volume, and parasitic power requirements, along with higher reliability and longer life. Four vendors have designed and fabricated non-flow-through fuel cell stacks under NASA funding. One of these vendors is considered the "baseline" vendor, and the remaining three vendors are competing for the "alternate" role. Each has undergone testing of their stack hardware integrated with a NASA balance-of-plant. Future Exploration applications for this hardware include primary fuel cells for a Lunar Lander and regenerative fuel cells for Surface Systems.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20110008750.
NASA PEMFC Development Background and History; 25 Jan. 2010; Newport, RI; United States.
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