June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.271.1 - 13.271.20
CACHE Module Development for Introducing Energy into the Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Fuel Cells Abstract
In this paper we describe the development of modules that can be used to introduce fuel cells into existing chemical engineering courses. Course specific modules have been developed that apply fundamental chemical engineering principles to the analysis of fuel cell systems. The modules are currently located at the following website: http://www.chem.mtu.edu/~jmkeith/fuel_cell_curriculum, and after beta testing, will be available through the CACHE website http://www.cache.org. Each module contains a problem motivation, reference to material from textbooks widely used in the chemical engineering curriculum, an example problem statement, example problem solution, home problem statement, and home problem solution. To date modules have been developed for the following chemical engineering core courses: mass and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and kinetics and reaction engineering. In addition to presenting the modules, we will present some preliminary assessment on these educational modules.
Objectives and Motivation
The search for alternative energy sources is an area that has received great attention in the last few years, beginning with the January 2003 State of the Union address by President George W. Bush, approving federal funding for hydrogen fuel cell research for passenger vehicles. Similar announcements were made by state governors, most notably Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, stating “not only will we build these cars in Michigan, our Automotive Technology Corridor will help develop the fuel cell technology those cars will run on.”
Inherent within the nation’s initiative should be the development of educational programs related to fuel cells and other aspects of the hydrogen economy. Although it is common for engineering curricula to lag behind technology in emerging fields, there has been a thrust to develop course material for hydrogen technology research within the chemical undergraduate curriculum. This paper describes these efforts.
Fuel Cell Overview
A fuel cell is device that converts a fuel into electricity with heat as a byproduct. There are several types of fuel cells, with the most likely fuel cell to be used for transportation applications being the proton exchange membrane fuel cell. In this device, the hydrogen fuel reacts with oxygen from the air and produces water. A single cell of a fuel cell produces about 0.7 V of potential; for many applications the cells are “stacked” together to give a higher voltage to power an electric motor. As such, the majority of design and analysis of fuel cell systems focuses on a single cell. A cartoon is shown in figure 1 below.
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