Ecosense installs a Fuel Cell Training System at NIT Arunachal Pradesh

National Institute of Technology, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most sought-after colleges in North Eastern India established with the vision to transform into an acclaimed institution of higher learning with creation of an impact on the north eastern region in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship.

NIT Arunachal Pradesh recently acquired a Fuel Cell Training System from Ecosense.

What is a Fuel Cell?

Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, like batteries. In the late 1830s, William Robert Grove (1811-1896) developed the first working fuel cell, which he called a "gas battery".

How Fuel Cell Works?

The operating principle of the proton-exchange-membrane-hydrogen-based fuel cell is relatively simple. The fuel cell as a whole is made up of several stacked cells (similar to the cells of a car battery). A cathode and an anode, which are separated by a proton exchange membrane, make up each cell in the stack. The PEM provides a channel for the migration of the hydrogen protons generated during the process while acting as an insulator between the adjacent "half cells." Each cell has an anode fed with hydrogen and a cathode fed with air or oxygen. On the anode side, hydrogen releases electrons that are guided through an external circuit before returning to the system on the cathode side, where they combine with oxygen and hydrogen ions to generate water. The process is described in a bit more detail below.

Hydrogen at the anode side of the cell starts the power generation process. The proton exchange membrane has a specific platinum catalyst coating that allows hydrogen molecules to split into two H+ ions when they come into contact with it (hydrogen ions). Each hydrogen atom from the initial hydrogen molecule needs to surrender an electron in order for the positive hydrogen ion to arise. Here's where graphite comes into play: the highly conductive graphite anode conducts these newly "free" electrons away, where they are then routed through an external circuit to generate energy. Hydrogen undergoes oxidation at the anode (its electrical charge is increased due to the shedding of electrons which results in an increased positive charge). While on the cathode side of the cell, oxygen molecules moving into the surface of the proton exchange membrane are cleaved into two highly reactive oxygen atoms, the newly created hydrogen ions (protons) continue to pass across the proton exchange membrane (the oxygen molecule, O2, is relatively stable while oxygen atoms are not). The electrons released from the hydrogen molecules at the anode during this entire process return from the external circuit via the extremely conductive graphite cathode. One oxygen atom, two hydrogen ions, and two returning electrons come together to form a water molecule at the interface between the proton exchange membrane and cathode. The overall reaction at the cathode is a reduction (electrons are added to oxygen reducing its charge). In the cell stack as a whole, hydrogen is oxidised, oxygen is reduced, electrons are released and reunited, and the resulting "chemical pressure" is used to generate power. This electrolytic "combustion" produces water as a by-product, which is released into the atmosphere. Every cell in the stack goes through the aforementioned process as long as fuel is available. A total stack pressure, or voltage, equal to the voltage of each cell times the quantity of cells in series is created by each cell pumping electrons emitted from the previous cell (the total number of cells in the stack).

Ecosense’s Fuel Cell Training System

The fuel cell training system from Ecosense is a stand-alone fuel cell system. To run utilities, the output of the fuel cell is connected to a charge controller, which is then connected to a battery, an inverter, and AC and DC loads.

Dry hydrogen is delivered to the fuel cell unit at a predetermined LPM from the hydrogen gas cylinder. A DC load can use the generated power directly, but due to the fuel cell system's V-I curve, which shows that voltage decreases as load increases, this cannot be done. Instead, the output of the fuel cell system is connected to a charge controller, which maintains output in accordance with battery voltage while charging the battery.

The battery bank is also connected to a home inverter so that the fuel cell system can use household utilities as a load.

The Fuel Cell Training System will enable users to comprehend the characteristics of fuel cells with the aid of resistive loads or DC-DC converters, output power variation of fuel cells with change in hydrogen supply, fuel cell performance with DC/AC load, and output variation of fuel cells with change in temperature.

Learning Outcomes of Ecosense’s Fuel Cell Training System

• Draw Characteristics of fuel cell with the help of resistive load or DC-DC converter
• Output power variation of fuel cell with change in Hydrogen supply
• Evaluate Fuel cell system performance with only DC load connected to the charge controller with battery bank
• Evaluate Fuel cell System performance with only AC load connected to the inverter with battery bank.
• Evaluate Output power variation of the fuel cell with a change in temperature.

Ecosense installs a Fuel Cell Training System at NIT Arunachal Pradesh
Ecosense installs a Fuel Cell Training System at NIT Arunachal Pradesh

Master’s Training Conducted

Ecosense also conducted a masters training. This master's training program was designed to educate and prepare professors, researchers, and technicians in Renewable Technology who would go on to instruct thousands of students and professionals in this sector as they launch their careers or businesses.

Program Outcomes

The instructors and students had a great time working on the lab equipment and thoroughly appreciated our training. Students taking help from Professors will use this lab setup as part of their regular curriculum and conduct experiments on the system to better understand it.

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