Master Assignments

Design and Optimization of a Direct Formate Fuel Cell

Sustainable Process Technology (SPT) / Photocatalytic Synthesis (PCS)
Daily supervisor: Martijn Blom                                                                                  Available from: 01-09-2018

Fuel cells are a key technology for the energy efficient conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy. Within the SPT and PCS groups, we are working on safe (non-toxic, non-flammable, non-explosive) electricity storage, using the bicarbonate-formate redox system (1). Energy is stored via the electrochemical conversion of a concentrated potassium bicarbonate solution to potassium formate (1). This conversion is reversible and the reverse reaction can be operated in a Direct Formate Fuel Cell to generate electricity.

We have constructed a measurement set-up and fuel cell body, in which we performed initial tests with commercially available fuel cell internals (membrane electrode assemblies).  We have produced electricity with the available internals, but the output power and efficiency should be further optimized. We expect membrane resistance or catalyst deactivation to be the likely cause of low performance.

The assignment is to improve the fuel cell internals, by adapting the design. Commercial internals may be used, but it is also possible to produce these in-house to gain more control over the production process. The new internals are to be validated in the existing set-up. That includes mass balance evaluation, and power and efficiency measurements. The student has the choice to focus on catalysis, transports (membranes) and/or system design.