Mark A. Cappelli, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
In this project, the effects of plasma injection on the operation of a fuel cell will be studied. A nonequilibrium plasma will be generated in the inlet gases of the fuel cell via dielectric barrier discharge. Ionized gas-phase species may alter the reaction pathways at the catalytic solid-gas interface in a way that affects significantly the activation losses. Through bench top experiments and systems-level modeling, this research will determine whether the resulting change in operational efficiency can overcome the power needed to generate the plasma. The applications of plasma to fuel cells extend beyond mere efficiency gains; plasma enhancement may also be used simultaneously for internal fuel reforming.