White PaperManufacturing & Prototyping
Modeling and Simulation in Fuel Cell Development
One possible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down climate change is to replace internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles powered by batteries and fuel cells. Electric vehicles that operate with fuel cells offer several advantages compared to electric vehicles that use batteries. They can reach a higher energy density (especially for heavy vehicles); exhibit greater efficiency when the electricity used to charge batteries comes from hydrogen; and, compared to battery recharging, can be refueled without requiring very high power from the electric grid.
The main limitations of fuel cells for electric vehicles are their manufacturing cost, limited service life, and relatively low power density compared to that of battery powered electrical vehicles. These limitations all boil down to the microscopic design of the active layer in the oxygenreducing, gas-diffusion electrodes: the cathode in the fuel cell. While there are other aspects of the design that are important, the design of the active layer is a key aspect of the fuel cell’s performance.
In order to improve the design of the active layer of a fuel cell, engineers and scientists have to understand the fundamental transport phenomena, electrode kinetics, thermodynamics, electrolyte chemistry, and catalytic surface activity involved in this layer’s charge transfer reactions. These factors have to be understood at the microscopic level.
This white paper highlights how modeling & simulation tools enable an understanding of fuel cells at the microscopic level. These tools also allow for an optimal combination of fuel cells, batteries, and supercapacitors in order to deliver energy and power density at a low cost and with maximum service life.
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