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Sunday, September 10, 2023

Inexpensive Bench-Scale Water Fuel Cell

 Project in progress.

15 cm2 wood will be treated with acrylic to protect electrode under water.  Activated carbon/ graphite to be bound to entire surface- both sides. A metal screen is stapled into the wood as a current collector. Two electrodes will be created.  

Some H2 and O2 should be absorbed/ adsorbed by the activated carbon. 3 V input?  Good current should be generated with the electrdde surface area used.  A 5 W solar panel will be used to photolyze  water.

Various separators can be used / tested with these electrodes.


"Energy-storage"  professors should be able to use this inexpensive  fuel cell for undergraduate education and fundamental research.   I will upload progress and data.

Update ( 9-14-23): The dried electrodes are conducting electricity and water is being electrolyzed.

Images will be uploaded of the electrodes my students are preparing. This should prove to be an excellent approach to involving students in "fuel cell" research.

                                                     The prototype fuel cell with these electrodes work. My students will use a solar panel in lab to drive water photolysis.  I use "ZKE Tech" e-load device/ software for data collection on cell performance.

            This cell can be built by impressionable young minds under proper supervision. This will lead to further study of "fuel cells" and "energy storage".

           I will be uploading additional images and data acquisition  as research progresses.

Update ( 7-23-23): My undergraduate  students did assemble some simple fuel cells and current was drawn:

Two woode electrodes painted with polystyrene in toluene solvent as binder. It contained graphite and activated carbon. A section of  fine mesh aluminum was staple-gunned to the wood as current collector. The staples should be insulated with hot glue. I did not do this and iron (from the staples oxidized in solution, hence the yellow coloration. Each electrode has a section of carbon pad also painted with graphite and activated carbon to increase gas adsorption. 



                          Paper insulation was inserted between the padded electrodes.  The cell will hold a potential ; it was at 2.2V (after 15 minutes charge at 5 V/ .400 mA).  mA current was drawn. Improvement ( use activated carbon pad!)  of this prototype and using a 5W solar panel will illustrate fuel cell technology to impressionable minds!  We will upload images of improved cells and data acquisition as the project continues.



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