Tutorial Title: Fuel Cell Technology and Applications


Speaker: Plamen Doynov

Senior Engineer, Midwest Research Institute


Abstract: Fuel Cells are electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of reaction directly into electrical energy. Their attractiveness as an energy source is based on the following advantages: low or zero pollution emissions; high efficiency; fuel flexibility; simple implementation; high quality of the generated power; wide range of applications. Fuel cells are 2-3 times more efficient compared to internal combustion engines. Power plants using fuel cell for co-generation can achieve energy efficiencies over 80 percent. As the technology continuously evolve, the performance of the new designs reach even higher levels. The main types of fuel cells are alkaline, solid oxide, molten carbonate, phosphoric acid, direct methanol, and proton exchange membrane. Any hydrogen-rich material can serve as a possible source of hydrogen fuel, including natural gas, petroleum, propane, methanol, ethanol and even coal. There are three ways hydrogen can be “reformed” from hydrocarbon (fossil) fuels: Catalytic steam reformer (CSR), Auto-thermal reformer (ATR), and Catalytic partial oxidation reformer (CPOX). Non-fossil based sources for hydrogen are electrolysis, thermo-chemical water splitting, photo-electrochemical systems, bio- and photo-biological systems, industrial and thermal processing. Energy generated by fuel cells can be and is used in many applications - from industrial and residential, to transportation, portable, and stationary systems. The undergoing research and development continue to deliver better, more efficient and less expensive fuel cells. The tutorial will address the most recent developments of the technology. The audience will have the opportunity to experiment with small experimental fuel cell with proton exchange membrane for electrolysis of water and electric power generation. Medium scale (1.2 kW) Ballard’s fuel cell will be demonstrated with laptop computer based monitoring and control. The USA hydrogen initiative and associated needs for developing the successful infrastructure will be discussed. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) hydrogen energy program for students and teachers will be referenced for continuous exploration of the topic.


Prospective Audience: This tutorial is designed for students, technical personal and researchers working or interested in the area of alternative energy and fuel cells in particular. The content is aimed to help electrical engineers and scientist gain comprehensive overview of the state of the technology, its benefits, and obstacles to overcome. The hands on demonstrations and audience participation is intended to trigger interest for students of any field toward this emerging technology and the new possibilities it offers for current and future designs.


Presenter’s Biography: Plamen Doynov is a Senior Engineer at Midwest Research Institute (MRI) in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. MRI has been managing NREL for the last 15 years and is a nationwide main participant in alternative energy sources development. Mr. Doynov was the lead engineer for alternative energy golf car project at MRI. Ballard’s fuel cell was used for the project. Additional experience includes the design of portable instrumentation utilizing the advantages of fuel cell technology. Mr. Doynov is currently a graduate student in ECE department of UMKC, where he is completing doctoral studies in Biometrics. His research interests and expertise include biomedical engineering, remote sensing, and design of specialized instrumentation. In his career Mr. Doynov has worked in multiple scientific and industrial projects, including the implementation of alternative energy power sources. He is currently using most recent methanol fuel cell in combination with super-capacitors for portable electronic instrumentation. Mr. Doynov has 15 publications and three US patents. He is IEEE Member.