Michigan Technological University researchers create mathematical model to make cut down on research and development time of fuel cells

Michigan Technological University researchers create mathematical model to make cut down on research and development time of fuel cells

April 5, 2012 0 By Erin Kilgore

Math model may shed some light on the future of hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Research

Research and development is a significant part of the progress of technology. Adequate R&D is vital in ensuring that technology is both marketable and useful to a commercial market. Unfortunately, this process is time consuming – in some cases taking years to produce a viable product. In the case of hydrogen fuel cells, research and development has been a stumbling block for decades. Researchers from the Michigan Technological University believe they have solved the problems of lengthy R&D, however, with a mathematical model.

Researchers claim that the model can cut research and development time significantly. The model highlights water as a problem with current fuel cells. Fuel cells emit water vapor as a byproduct of chemical reactions. A small amount of this water can, ironically, disable a fuel cell, despite the fact that the fuel cell uses water to generate electricity. Fuel cells are designed to manage the movement of water to prevent the liquid from interfering with chemical processes, but this has been a struggle with trial and error.

The mathematical model seeks to forecast the movements of water, thereby helping fuel cell developers create more effective management systems. In initial tests, the model proved very useful. Researchers have begun adding temperature and evaporation variables into the model and believe that, if successful, it will help cut down on the time it takes to produce next generation hydrogen fuel cells and other energy systems.