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Hydrogen Systems

NIF Fuel Cell Infrastructure

The NIST NIF provides users with complete, state of the art PEFC control and testing infrastructure. Available for general use are a fuel cell test stand, a sample environment chamber, a hydrogen generator, as well as supplies of other gases, chilled house water, and Type I deionized water. The fuel cell test stand is the most important component of NIF infrastructure. The stand controls all aspects of the fuel cells operation, and can simulate the demands that the fuel cell would experience while powering an automobile. The NIST NIF stand was custom-built to allow users to control the humidity, pressure, flow rate, temperature and gas composition of the fuel gases entering the fuel cell. NIST NIF fuel cell test stand

The sample environment chamber will allow users to operate a fuel cell in real world conditions, such as International Falls, MN at midnight in January, or August in Mobile, AL. The chamber will be able to control the ambient temperature from -40 C to 50 C (-40 F to 125 F) as well as the relative humidity from 15 % to 90 %. The chamber will accommodate commercial grade fuel cells and will have cooling capacity of about 1 kW at -40 C. We expect to have the environmental chamber available for use by late summer 2006.

Sample area in the neutron beam The interior of the NIF has been specifically designed to accommodate fuel cell. Standard 50 cm2 fuel cell as well as much larger samples readily fit in the standard sample area. In addition, the large floor plan of the sample allows users to bring additional equipment closer to the fuel cell. The center of the beam is 42 in above the floor. There is about 10 ft on either side of the sample position.

NIST NIF Fuel Cell Test Stand

NIST NIF fuel cell test stand
  • State of the art, custom-built, PEFC test stand
  • Flow control over H2, Air, N2, He, O2 with accuracy of 1 % full scale:
    • H2: 0-500 and 0-3000 sccm
    • N2: 0-2000 sccm
    • Air: 0-100, 0-500, 0-2000, 0-8000 sccm
    • O2: 0-500, 0-5000 sccm
    • He: 0-600, 0-6000 sccm
  • Users can create custom gas mixtures for anode and cathode in the stand
  • Measurement of high current densities with boost power supply allowing voltage control of the cell to a minimum of 0.01 V
  • Heated Inlet gas lines
  • Built-in humidification of anode and cathode gas streams for all flow rates
  • Graphical User Interface
  • Logs and stores files of all cell parameters during operation
  • Multiple thermocouple inputs
  • Interfaced with facility hydrogen safety system
  • All users of the NIST NIF have access to the stand


Inquiries or comments: David Jacobson

Online: May 2006