How To Construct A DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell


    Constructing a DIY hydrogen gasoline cell is an effective way to familiarize your self with the expertise that may exchange fossil fuels within the close to future.

    Gas cells and hydrogen have many benefits:

    • Shops plenty of vitality —1lb comprises 15kWh vs. 5.5kWh for petrol;
    • Most ample ingredient within the universe;
    • Environment friendly (60% gasoline cell effectivity vs. 30% for combustion engine);
    • Clear — solely generates water and warmth.

    For these causes, hydrogen is a wonderful different to the present fossil gasoline economic system. Though many technical points, comparable to clear hydrogen manufacturing and storage, nonetheless need to be solved. However, hydrogen gasoline cell expertise is already working and spreading all over the world.

    On this article, we train you how one can construct a DIY hydrogen gasoline cell with out chemical substances or poisonous materials. Furthermore, we clarify how a gasoline cell works and the important components you’ll require for the construct.

    Lastly, we focus on what you’ll be able to energy with this cell and share our suggestions to enhance your DIY hydrogen gasoline cell additional. 


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    What Do You Want To Construct A DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell?

    Gas cells are modular gadgets. They will nearly energy something, from the smallest digital gadget (a couple of watts for a cell phone) to the biggest backup generator (+500kW).

    On this article, we focus on constructing a customizable, low-power, air-cooled gasoline cell with a most energy of 14W.

    The general value of this gasoline cell (excluding the hydrogen canister) is $1,092.

    Here’s a listing of the gear and supplies wanted to construct a PEMFC (Proton Alternate Membrane Gas Cell):

    Moreover, you’ll require the next instruments:

    • Flathead screwdriver 1/4in
    • Torque wrench (<50 in-lb, 1/4-inch nut) 

    Please observe: for a primary construct, we advocate buying a package just like the Flex Stack Assembles. This package contains all of the listed materials (besides the hydrogen canister).

    How To Construct A DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell

    This DIY hydrogen gasoline cell can have the next specs:

    Variety of cells within the stack 20
    Nominal Energy Output As much as 14W
    Nominal Working Voltage 9.5V to 12V
    Hydrogen Consumption (cc/minute) 400
    Dimension 5.9*3.15*3.15in (15*8*8cm)

    Right here is the constructing plan:

    DIY hydrogen fuel cell building plan.
    DIY hydrogen gasoline cell constructing plan.

    Constructing your hydrogen gasoline cell is comparatively straightforward and solely requires 5 steps that you may full in half-hour:

    Step 1: Assemble The First Cell

    Time to construct a multilayered sandwich of single gasoline cells.

    A 2ft x 2ft working desk is good for making this small gasoline cell.

    You’ll begin by placing the 4 information dowels into the primary endplate (anode facet). Don’t overlook to incorporate their o-rings to stop gasoline leakage.

    Then carry within the first graphite bipolar stream plate. Make certain the stream channels are directed towards the MEA.

    After that, insert the primary gasket adopted by the MEA, then put within the second gasket to completely sandwich the MEA.

    There you’ve gotten it — you’ve simply assembled your first gasoline cell!

    Step 2: Stack The 20 Gas Cells

    Now it is advisable add 19 extra gasoline cells.

    Observe the identical course of described in Step 1. Don’t overlook to insert every layer into the information dowels.

    Conclude the stack with the final finish plate. When you’ve completed, tighten the information dowels with a torque between 8-10 lbs.

    Your gasoline cell ought to seem like this:

    Fuel Cell Stack: DIY Kit Flex Stack Assembles
    Gas Cell Stack: DIY Package Flex Stack Assembles

    Step 3: Join The DC Converter

    The polarity of your DIY gasoline cell is as follows: the anode is the detrimental pole (with the hydrogen inlet), and the cathode is constructive.

    A DC-to-DC converter will assist stabilize your gasoline cell’s voltage output to a gradual 12V. This output is ideal for DC home equipment or battery charging.

    Make certain to respect the polarity whereas connecting the DC converter (+ with + and – with -).

    Step 4: Join Your H2 tank

    Supplying hydrogen to your gasoline cell is the ultimate step!

    Join your hydrogen canister to the hydrogen inlet of the gasoline cell by way of the PVC tube

    You might want a strain regulator on the finish of your hydrogen canister.

    Step 5: Check Your Gas Cell

    As quickly as you provide hydrogen to the gasoline cell, it can produce electrical energy.

    Use a multimeter to measure the voltage of every cell. To do that, join the constructive electrode of the meter to the cathode and transfer the detrimental electrode to every bipolar plate.

    Lastly, measure the voltage of the stack on the present collectors (anode and cathode). It is best to see round 12V for the gasoline cell voltage and round 0.6V for each cell.

    Customise Your DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell

    Your gasoline cell is customizable! Listed below are 3 ways to extend its energy output:

    • Add further cells to the stacks — this may improve the voltage
    • Check out MEAs with larger platinum load to spice up the effectivity
    • Use bigger MEAs — this may improve the Amps.

    Please observe: that at larger energy (>50W), you have to further gear, comparable to a cooling gadget, to keep up the gasoline cell beneath 80°C and keep away from the MEA from drying.

    How Does A Hydrogen Gas Cell Work?

    A hydrogen gasoline cell working precept is comparatively straightforward to know. You might even end up being transported again to highschool chemistry class.

    A hydrogen gasoline cell is an electrochemical gadget that converts chemical substances (H2 and O2) into electrical energy. It takes benefit of the response between hydrogen and oxygen catalyzed by Platinum (Pt).

    The center of a hydrogen gasoline cell is a cell with two electrodes: cathode and anode. Right here, two reactions co-occur:

    On the anode, hydrogen is oxidized to kind two protons (H+) and two electrons (e).

    On the cathode, protons and electrons mix with oxygen to kind water.

    This text focuses on PEM (Proton Alternate Membrane) hydrogen gasoline cells.

    As depicted within the determine beneath, the 2 electrodes are separated by a membrane (polymer electrolyte) that enables the stream of protons (H+) from one electrode to a different whereas the electrons (e) journey exterior the cell to drive a load.

    Working principle of a PEM hydrogen fuel cell.
    Working precept of a PEM hydrogen gasoline cell.
    Supply: U.S. Division of Vitality

    Hydrogen Gas Cell Operation In 7 Steps

    1. Hydrogen gasoline (H2) enters the gasoline cell on the anode
    2. The hydrogen response is catalyzed by platinum on the anode
    3. Electrons stream out of the cell
    4. Protons (H+) diffuse towards the cathode by the Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM)
    5. Oxygen (O2) from the air is absorbed within the cathode by a Fuel Diffusion Layer (GDL)
    6. Oxygen and protons react on the cathode to supply water
    7. Water and warmth are evacuated by a bipolar plate on the cathode

    Earlier than Constructing A DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell

    Gas cells are comparatively new techniques; due to this fact, it’s important to know a few of their specificities earlier than constructing your hydrogen generator.

    DIY Hydrogen Gas cell Stack: Voltage And Present Output

    The output voltage of a single gasoline cell is normally within the vary of 0.6V-0.7V (at nominal energy). The output present will depend on the floor of the energetic electrode (the one loaded with platinum catalyst), normally round 0.1A/cm2.

    Let’s do the mathematics for a single gasoline cell with an energetic electrode floor of 10cm2:

    10cm2 x 0.1A/cm2 x 0.7V= 0.7 Watt.

    That’s the ability of a single gasoline cell.

    For the usual voltage batteries used, you could stack 20 single cells related in collection (20*0.7V=14V) have to be constructed to achieve 12V.

    A fuel cell stack: assembly of three fuel cells.
    A gasoline cell stack: meeting of three gasoline cells.

    Membrane-Electrode Meeting (MEA) — The Coronary heart Of The Gas Cell

    The MEA is the core part of any hydrogen gasoline cell. It’s loaded with catalysts (Platinum) and electrolytes (membrane), enabling the gasoline cell’s electrochemical reactions.

    As depicted beneath, it consists of:

    • A Polymer Electrolyte Membrane — an electrolyte that enables the electrons to move by;
    • Two catalyst layers enhance the electrochemical response;
    • Two Fuel Diffusion Layers (GDL) diffuse the gasoline; and
    • Sealing materials.
    Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) for a hydrogen fuel cell.
    Membrane Electrode Meeting (MEA) for a hydrogen gasoline cell.

    Please observe: superior builders could make their very own MEA, however some steps contain dealing with chemical substances. As such, we advocate buying a ready-made MEA for the primary construct.

    What Can You Energy With A DIY Hydrogen Gas Cell?

    DIY gasoline cells can energy small digital gadgets like cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Their most steady output energy is round 60W.

    DIY gasoline cells have a number of benefits:

    • Compact measurement
    • Silent
    • Pure water by-product
    • Dependable and sturdy

    As a disadvantage, DIY gasoline cells are restricted of their energy output due to the warmth they generate.

    Excessive temperatures (>150°F) would dry the MEA and degrade the cell. Putting in a cooling system is dear and requires extra engineering; it’s reserved for professionals.  

    Closing Ideas

    Hydrogen applied sciences promise to resolve the fossil gasoline disaster and reduce down our CO2 emissions. But, many technical points have to be addressed for mass adoption.

    However, gasoline cell expertise is able to energy the smallest digital gadgets to the biggest buildings.

    On this article, we mentioned constructing a 14W gasoline cell for an total value of $ 1,100. Given its low energy, that is nonetheless fairly costly, however this mannequin is definitely customizable by modifying the MEA or rising the variety of cells.

    Producing electrical energy from air and hydrogen is fascinating, and assembling your personal DIY gasoline cell is a pioneer expertise.

    After this primary construct, you’ll be able to make extra highly effective fashions requiring a cooling system and gasoline humidification processes.


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