US20060141329A1 - Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator - Google Patents

Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060141329A1
US20060141329A1 US11025434 US2543404A US2006141329A1 US 20060141329 A1 US20060141329 A1 US 20060141329A1 US 11025434 US11025434 US 11025434 US 2543404 A US2543404 A US 2543404A US 2006141329 A1 US2006141329 A1 US 2006141329A1
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US
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
water
accumulator
fuel
cell
power
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11025434
Inventor
Garrett Fink
Jennifer Kurtz
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UTC Power LLC
Original Assignee
UTC Power LLC
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01MPROCESSES OR MEANS, e.g. BATTERIES, FOR THE DIRECT CONVERSION OF CHEMICAL INTO ELECTRICAL ENERGY
    • H01M8/00Fuel cells; Manufacture thereof
    • H01M8/04Auxiliary arrangements, e.g. for control of pressure or for circulation of fluids
    • H01M8/04007Auxiliary arrangements, e.g. for control of pressure or for circulation of fluids related to heat exchange
    • H01M8/04052Storage of heat in the fuel cell system
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01MPROCESSES OR MEANS, e.g. BATTERIES, FOR THE DIRECT CONVERSION OF CHEMICAL INTO ELECTRICAL ENERGY
    • H01M8/00Fuel cells; Manufacture thereof
    • H01M8/04Auxiliary arrangements, e.g. for control of pressure or for circulation of fluids
    • H01M8/04007Auxiliary arrangements, e.g. for control of pressure or for circulation of fluids related to heat exchange
    • H01M8/04029Heat exchange using liquids
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01MPROCESSES OR MEANS, e.g. BATTERIES, FOR THE DIRECT CONVERSION OF CHEMICAL INTO ELECTRICAL ENERGY
    • H01M8/00Fuel cells; Manufacture thereof
    • H01M8/04Auxiliary arrangements, e.g. for control of pressure or for circulation of fluids
    • H01M8/04291Arrangements for managing water in solid electrolyte fuel cell systems

Abstract

The water transport plates (8) of a stack of fuel cells (9) receive water from an accumulator (11) which has a vent (17) within which demineralizers (33) are disposed. The entrance to the accumulator has a conical baffle which disrupts the flow of water entering the accumulator, thereby acting as a gas separator (16). A coolant pump (23) pumps coolant through a heat exchanger (25) where it is divided between an accumulator inlet conduit (31) and a demineralizer inlet conduit (32), the flow between which may be adjusted by means of a flow restrictor (30).

Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • [0001]
    This invention relates to disposing fuel cell power plant water demineralizers within the coolant accumulator so as to be warmed by the fuel cell stack coolant, upon startup, particularly in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • BACKGROUND ART
  • [0002]
    A simplified illustration of a fuel cell power plant is shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0003]
    The cooler plates 8 within the fuel cell stack assembly 9 (CSA) receive water over a conduit 10 from an accumulator 11. The outflow from the cooler plates 8 is applied over a conduit 15 to a separator 16 having a vent, such as an atmospheric vent 17, that removes entrained gas from the coolant water. A conduit 22 provides the coolant to the input of a coolant pump 23, the outflow of which on a conduit 24 delivers the coolant to a heat exchanger 25. When a fuel cell power plant is operating, the heat exchanger will dissipate some of the heat to maintain the coolant water temperature reentering the cooler plates 8 at a suitable temperature. The heat exchanger may typically include a fan utilizing atmospheric air as the cooling medium, and may have a thermostatically controlled bypass, all as is conventional, well known in the art and not disclosed further herein for clarity.
  • [0004]
    The coolant then passes through conduits 29, 31 to the accumulator 11. A flow restrictor 30 allows balancing the flow of water between the accumulator and a demineralizer 33. In some configurations, the flow restrictor may be in the conduit 32. The demineralizers 33 contain a large mass of conventional deionizing resin so as to remove minerals from the coolant.
  • [0005]
    At temperatures below the freezing temperature of water, even though a bulk of the water system is thawed and water is flowing and becoming warmed by process heat within the CSA 9, the large thermal mass of the deionizing resin in the demineralizer, coupled with the very low flow of water through the demineralizer, cause the water flowing into the demineralizer to flash freeze, and block any further flow. Thus, the demineralizer takes an extremely long time to thaw, perhaps hours.
  • [0006]
    In order to accommodate the large, cold, mass of the demineralizer 33, it is common to provide a heater 36 on the external surface of the demineralizer, or in some other way to heat the mass of deionizing resin therein.
  • [0007]
    The heat required to raise the mass of the demineralizer to a temperature above the freezing point of water is significant, and constitutes an excessive parasitic power drain. In vehicular applications, where an electric motor is driven by a fuel cell power plant, space is at a premium and parasitic power must be kept to a minimum since the storage of fuel must be minimized. The total water volume in a vehicular system should be minimized as well.
  • [0008]
    During startup, before adequate flow is established in the demineralizers, the water becomes more and more conductive thereby reducing useful power that is generated.
  • [0009]
    Fuel cell power plants with separate deionizers are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,368,737, 6,428,916 and 6,656,622.
  • DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION
  • [0010]
    Objects of the invention include: reducing the size of fuel cell power plants; reducing parasitic power in fuel cell power plants; reducing the plumbing necessary for the water volume and temperature management system in fuel cell power plants; reducing the plumbing required in fuel cell power plant water systems; simplifying shut down strategies for draining water systems in fuel cell power plants used in subfreezing ambients; and reducing the volume required by a fuel cell power plant.
  • [0011]
    According further to the invention, a gas separator in the water flow of a fuel cell power plant water volume and temperature management system comprises a baffle disposed in the top of a vented accumulator, thereby reducing the overall volume of the power plant.
  • [0012]
    According to the present invention, one or more demineralizers of a fuel cell power plant are disposed within the water accumulator of the fuel cell power plant.
  • [0013]
    The invention utilizes heat generated by the fuel cell power plant upon startup to warm the demineralizers, by heat transfer between the coolant in the water accumulator and the demineralizers contained therein. With the invention, because the space surrounding the one or more demineralizers is used to accommodate accumulator water, rather than simply occupy cabinet space, the invention saves overall volume required for fuel cell power plants.
  • [0014]
    An advantage of the invention is that sloshing of water within the accumulator is reduced due to the baffle effect of the one or more demineralizers contained therein.
  • [0015]
    Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent in the light of the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawing.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1 is a simplified, stylized block diagram of a fuel cell power plant with a separate demineralizer as is known in the prior art.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2 is a simplified, stylized schematic block diagram of a fuel cell power plant having demineralizers disposed within the water accumulator, in accordance with the invention.
  • MODE(S) FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
  • [0018]
    Referring to FIG. 2, one or more demineralizers 33 are disposed directly within the accumulator 11. At the top of the accumulator, the separator 16 comprises a conical baffle, around which water flows downwardly into the accumulator, allowing gases to escape through the vent 17. It could be other shapes or a spray, in some embodiments. In the form illustrated in FIG. 2, the invention not only reduces the volume of fuel cell power plants by disposing the demineralizers within the accumulator, it also reduces volume by disposing the separator within the accumulator.
  • [0019]
    In a preferred embodiment, the flow restrictor 30 and much of the plumbing 29, 31, 32 will be disposed within the accumulator 11.
  • [0020]
    All of the aforementioned patents are incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0021]
    Thus, although the invention has been shown and described with respect to exemplary embodiments thereof, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the foregoing and various other changes, omissions and additions may be made therein and thereto, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (7)

  1. 1. A fuel cell power plant comprising:
    a stack of fuel cells, each fuel cell having anode water flow channels and cathode water flow channels;
    a water accumulator in fluid communication with at least some of said water flow channels and having an inlet feed conduit;
    at least one demineralizer disposed within said water accumulator and having an inlet feed conduit;
    and wherein said accumulator is vented and has a conical baffle disposed at an inlet of the accumulator so as to disrupt the flow of water and gas entering the accumulator, whereby gas is separated from water; and
    said accumulator inlet feed conduit and said demineralizer inlet feed conduit receive water from at least some of said water flow channels.
  2. 2. A fuel cell power plant according to claim 1 further comprising a heat exchanger disposed between said water flow channels and said accumulator inlet conduit.
  3. 3. A fuel cell power plant comprising:
    a stack of fuel cells, each fuel cell having anode water flow channels and cathode water flow channels;
    a water accumulator in fluid communication with at least some of said water flow channels and having an inlet feed conduit; and
    at least one demineralizer disposed within said water accumulator and having an inlet feed conduit; and
    said accumulator inlet feed conduit and said demineralizer inlet feed conduit receive flow of water from at least some of said water flow channels.
  4. 4. A fuel cell power plant according to claim 3 wherein the flow of water into said accumulator and into said at least one demineralizer is adjusted by means of a flow restrictor in one of said inlet feed conduits.
  5. 5. A fuel cell power plant according to claim 3 further comprising a heat exchanger disposed between said water flow channels and said accumulator inlet conduit.
  6. 6. A fuel cell power plant comprising:
    a stack of fuel cells, each fuel cell having anode water flow channels and cathode water flow channels;
    a water accumulator, said accumulator being vented and having a conical baffle disposed at an inlet of the accumulator so as to disrupt the flow of water and gas entering the accumulator, whereby gas is separated from water; and
    said accumulator inlet flow conduit receiving water from at least some of said water channels.
  7. 7. A fuel cell power plant according to claim 6 further comprising a heat exchanger disposed between said water flow channels and said accumulator inlet conduit.
US11025434 2004-12-28 2004-12-28 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator Abandoned US20060141329A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11025434 US20060141329A1 (en) 2004-12-28 2004-12-28 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator

Applications Claiming Priority (7)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11025434 US20060141329A1 (en) 2004-12-28 2004-12-28 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
KR20077015255A KR20070089987A (en) 2004-12-28 2005-11-30 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
PCT/US2005/043160 WO2006071432A3 (en) 2004-12-28 2005-11-30 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
JP2007549383A JP2008525988A (en) 2004-12-28 2005-11-30 Coolant accumulator and integrated fuel cell desalter
EP20050857029 EP1846969A4 (en) 2004-12-28 2005-11-30 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
CN 200580045077 CN101091275A (en) 2004-12-28 2005-11-30 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
US11433075 US8084161B2 (en) 2004-12-28 2006-05-12 Combined accumulator and demineralizer functionality for a fuel cell

Related Child Applications (1)

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US11433075 Continuation-In-Part US8084161B2 (en) 2004-12-28 2006-05-12 Combined accumulator and demineralizer functionality for a fuel cell

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US20060141329A1 true true US20060141329A1 (en) 2006-06-29

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US11025434 Abandoned US20060141329A1 (en) 2004-12-28 2004-12-28 Fuel cell demineralizers integrated with coolant accumulator
US11433075 Active 2029-10-28 US8084161B2 (en) 2004-12-28 2006-05-12 Combined accumulator and demineralizer functionality for a fuel cell

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US11433075 Active 2029-10-28 US8084161B2 (en) 2004-12-28 2006-05-12 Combined accumulator and demineralizer functionality for a fuel cell

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US (2) US20060141329A1 (en)
EP (1) EP1846969A4 (en)
JP (1) JP2008525988A (en)
KR (1) KR20070089987A (en)
CN (1) CN101091275A (en)
WO (1) WO2006071432A3 (en)

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20110129753A1 (en) * 2009-12-02 2011-06-02 Hyundai Motor Company Coolant demineralizer for a fuel cell vehicle

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US6416892B1 (en) * 2000-07-28 2002-07-09 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Interdigitated enthally exchange device for a fuel cell power plant
US6428916B1 (en) * 1999-12-20 2002-08-06 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Coolant treatment system for a direct antifreeze cooled fuel cell assembly
US6451466B1 (en) * 2000-04-06 2002-09-17 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Functional integration of multiple components for a fuel cell power plant
US6656622B2 (en) * 2000-11-15 2003-12-02 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Degasified PEM fuel cell system

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US6428916B1 (en) * 1999-12-20 2002-08-06 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Coolant treatment system for a direct antifreeze cooled fuel cell assembly
US6451466B1 (en) * 2000-04-06 2002-09-17 Utc Fuel Cells, Llc Functional integration of multiple components for a fuel cell power plant
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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20110129753A1 (en) * 2009-12-02 2011-06-02 Hyundai Motor Company Coolant demineralizer for a fuel cell vehicle
US8518254B2 (en) 2009-12-02 2013-08-27 Hyundai Motor Company Coolant demineralizer for a fuel cell vehicle

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
WO2006071432A2 (en) 2006-07-06 application
JP2008525988A (en) 2008-07-17 application
US20060275640A1 (en) 2006-12-07 application
EP1846969A2 (en) 2007-10-24 application
US8084161B2 (en) 2011-12-27 grant
CN101091275A (en) 2007-12-19 application
EP1846969A4 (en) 2009-07-22 application
KR20070089987A (en) 2007-09-04 application
WO2006071432A3 (en) 2006-12-21 application

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Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
AS Assignment

Owner name: UTC FUEL CELLS, LLC, CONNECTICUT

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FINK, GARRETT W.;KURTZ, JENNIFER M.;REEL/FRAME:016146/0565

Effective date: 20041221