June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Energy Conversion and Conservation
26.803.1 - 26.803.16
From Lab to Market – Microfluidic Fuel Cell Stack: An Undergraduate Capstone ProjectToday renewable energy is one of the most rapidly growing industries. In the last decades there have alsobeen not only significant advances in the renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency andsustainability, but also an increased demand for trained engineers and technicians in these areas. Thisrequires the development of innovative curricula, new courses and laboratories to educate students towork in these fast changing industries. Engineering education moves into the twenty first century chargedwith an environmental agenda to respond to wider changes in the society. Enabling students to practiceself-directed learning, to find solutions to design problems that are sustainable and to recognize that theyare part of a global community are just a few of our educational goals. On the other hand, the renewableenergy and sustainability are highly interdisciplinary, crossing over between a numbers of research areas,having strong potential for hands-on multi-disciplinary project-based learning. Renewable energycapstone projects typically involve more than one discipline (electrical, mechanical, computer, civil, andchemical engineering concepts) while still being accessible to undergraduate students. A natural andefficient way of embedding renewable energy and sustainability into engineering and engineeringtechnology curricula is the problem-oriented and project-based learning approach. In this paper, we arediscussing a capstone senior design project that approaches the interdisciplinary aspects of thetranslational research in the renewable energy and sustainability. The project structure and outcomes,lesson learned and future improvements are discussed in detail. Design and development of renewableenergy and sustainability projects allow students to work on projects that can be relevant to currentleading edge research and technology.Further harnessing of new energy sources may enable miniaturizing electronic devices and making themmore portable or autonomous. Fuel cells, among other renewable energy sources, have been proven tooffer higher energy densities as well as greater flexibility related to storage and system implementation,when compared to traditional battery systems. Scaling these systems to a microfluidic level may becomethe best option for powering the myriad of portable electronic devices that have been developed in therecent years. Students selected the micro direct methanol fuel cell proof-of-concept based on literaturereview, and then they been able to develop and investigate on how to make the jump from a laboratorysetting to an actual consumer product. The goal of the project was to create a compact, rugged, andportable charging device that utilizes stacked microscale (< 1 mm feature size) direct methanol fuel cellsthat do not rely on a membrane, as fuel cell membranes are costly and problematic Throughout this pastacademic year, a team of senior students were able to effectively progress towards reaching our overallproject goal. They were able to successfully fabricate and power test the fuel cell design. Followingpower testing, multiple fuel cells were then created to be stacked in an orderly fashion for multiplyingtheir power outputs. With this stacked assembly, the creation and testing of a new and innovativemanifold design was performed to ensure proper feeding and extracting of our stacked fuel cell’s fuel andoxidant. With all the stages of the project coming together, we were finally able to 3D print the case, andassembling the actually consumer product prototype.
Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N., & Mauk, M. G. (2015, June), From Lab to Market – Microfluidic Fuel Cell Stack: An Undergraduate Capstone Project Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24140
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