Fuel cell measurement

Monday, July 8, 2019
Fuel cells are devices that convert chemical energy (usually Hydrogen) directly into electrical energy, water and heat. A fuel cell combined with a motor replace the need for an engine. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry. A reason for this is that hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles are classed as ultra-low emission vehicles. In this Application Note, we demonstrate the ability to measure the multiple steep sided grooves which affect gas diffusion and Fuel Cell performance.

Challenges in measuring fuel cells

1. Steep sides
The biggest difficulty in measuring a fuel cell is being able to measure the grooves along the surface. These can have very steep (~75°) surfaces and cannot be measured with a single trace using a profilometer.
Typical stylus tips have an included angle of 60° which limits the valid measurement to an angle of ~45°. Measurement solutions need to provide valid data along the length of the groove.

2. Component alignment
For any measurement, to accurately capture the true profile of the groove, the component must be well aligned to the measurement axis. If there is any misalignment of the fuel cell, then the true profile of the groove will be missed. To aid accuracy and speed up the measurement cycle time, the alignment process should be fully
automatic.

Solutions provided by Form Talysurf® PGI NOVUS and Metrology 4.0

1. Steep sides
Form Talysurf® PG NOVUS and Metrology 4.0 provide a convenient way to measure the steep sided groove profiles on a fuel cell. This is done by using traverse unit tilt which enables the component to lie flat on the measurement stage and the traverse unit to be angled to allow for a steep-sided measurement. The traverse unit can be inclined to an angle of up to 30° and has been designed to be fit for use with a wide variety of fuel cell designs.

2. Component alignment
It is important to capture the true profile of the groove profile. To ensure this, the component should be correctly aligned to the instrument axis. This is particularly important for when small radii are involved. The system achieves this rapidly by use of high accuracy (Y and rotary) stages with an automated alignment routine. The Y-stage and rotary stage are used to determine the reference edges at each end of the fuel cell and rotate it by the correct amount. This increases accuracy, repeatability, reproducibility and throughput as there is no operator interaction required. Accurate fuel cell measurements can only be achieved following correct alignment.

Click here to read the full application report on Fuel cell measurement

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