Influence of air contaminants on planar, self-breathing hydrogen PEM fuel cells in an outdoor environment
In this study, the effects of air contaminants on the operation of air-breathing fuel cells in an outdoor environment are investigated. For this purpose, a unique testing platform, which allows continuous operation of 30 cells at different locations, was developed. Three of these testing platforms were placed at different sites in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, with high variances of weather and pollution patterns. These locations range from a highly polluted place next to a busy highway to a location with virtually pure air at an altitude of 1205 m. The fuel cells were tested at all sites for over 4500 h in continuous operation. The degradation of the cells due to air pollutants was measured as a voltage decrease for three different operation loads and membranes from two different manufactures. As the temperature of the fuel cells has not been regulated, the irreversible degradation of the cell voltages could not be isolated from the dominant influence of the temperatu re in the raw data. With the use of the measured data, the impact of real mixtures of air contaminants was observed to be mainly reversible.