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Passive heat and mass transfer in fuel cells

This patented heat and water management system helps to minimize parasitic energy loss in fuel cells. The passive technology integrates a thermally and electrically conductive wicking element between the gas diffusion layer and the current collector of a fuel cell. Inside the fuel cell stack water is driven through hydrophilic pores by surface tension to the outside where it is removed by convection driven evaporation. This technology decouples heat and water removal from the oxidant supply and could improve overall fuel cell performance efficiency and longevity. Stage of Research: The inventors have tested the heat/mass transfer wick in air breathing fuel cells for a portable device. The technology dramatically improved power output and stability - the fuel cell successfully operated under severe flooding conditions ambient temperature 10°C and relative humidity of 80% for up to 6 h with no observable cathode flooding or loss of performance.

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