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Optimizing Fuel Cell Test Stands – Leak Checks And Membrane Permeability Tests

Optimizing Fuel Cell Test Stands – Leak Checks And Membrane Permeability Tests
Leak checking fuel cell systems – especially membrane leak and permeability testing – is vital for ensuring consistent flow rates, maintaining process efficiency, and minimizing loss of reactants such as high value heavy metals in the catalyst layers of membrane electrode assemblies. This can be particularly challenging in larger volume fuel cell systems where testing multi-stage processes can lead to flow spikes during the test process.

Leak check stations are typically composed of two components. The first is a dual valve pressure controller which makes measurements every 30 ms and ensures the element under test remains at a set pressure while minimizing He usage. Meanwhile, highly sensitive PID tuning and setpoint ramping functionality help protect the membrane from flow spikes during testing. This is combined with a low pressure drop mass flow meter to characterize the slightest leaks, with a pressure drop as low as 0.07 PSID across the unit. These two instruments can be controlled from a single computer/PLC using an array of communication protocols for easy automation and data analysis.

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