The Fuel Cell Laboratory (FCL) was founded at Thai-Nichi Institute of Technology in 2009 by the present head, Asst. Prof. Nuttapol Limjeerajarus. The FCL was created to respond to the need of renewable energy development and a sustainable future in Thailand. Our current areas of focus are including polymer electrolyte fuel cells, A GIS-Based analysis on renewable energy potential, and electric vehicle.
Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell
One of the key components of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) is the bipolar plate which consists the reactant flow field inside since it performs several functions affecting PEFC performance, such as keeping the reactants separate from each other, distributing them to the catalyst layer, distributing the electrons to the external circuit and also helping of water management. An improper designed flow field can cause the maldistributions of current density, temperature, and water concentration, which lead to localized mechanical stress, flooding or drying of the membrane, and flooding in flow channel. These problems, consequently, reduce performance and shorten the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) lifetime.
A proper designed flow field needs to satisfy these following requirements 1. Provide uniform distributions 2. Prevent flooding in porous media while keeps the membrane hydrated 3. Allow electrons to move as freely as possible 4. Minimize the pressure drop and 5. Easy to manufacture. The most common designs are Serpentine, Parallel, and Interdigitated flow field. However, these designs cannot satisfy all those requirements. Novel designs are needed for a wide-scale commercialization.
Among several available methods, computational fuel cell dynamics (CFCD), which is based on the knowledge of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), is a useful tool in the fuel cell performance evaluation and parametric design optimization since it can provide some better understanding in macroscopic transport phenomena inside a single cell PEFC in which the experimentation has a limitation in measuring technology. Since developing the designs by an experimental prototype can be an expensive investment which may not offer any performance improvements over the existing designs, CFCD saves both cost and time.
Recently, the world energy crisis caused by fossil fuel overconsumption is spreading. Thailand is also facing the same problem since fossil fuel dependency tends to increase annually. As of year 2011, over 80 percent of oil consumption in Thailand were imported from foreign country. Development of renewable energy technologies becomes an important thing which will help reducing the imported energy and sharing the risk of the rely on role energy source such as natural gas by which more than 70 percent of Thailand’s current power generation is produced. Therefore, the Ministry of Energy (MoE) of Thailand initiated the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP 2012-2021) which aimed to develop the renewable energy to be the major energy.
Geographic Information System (GIS) is a one technique that plays an important role which can be used to identify suitable locations for a renewable energy according to environmental concern. Integrating with FAO framework and multiple regression analysis, the results were was qualitatively and quantitatively shown. By applying our developed techniques with renewable energy, i.e., Napier grass, the renewable energy potential in Thailand can be easily evaluated in which the results were shown in both appropriate area and its yield.
Since, nowadays, energy shortage becomes a major problem in our society, finding of the new renewable power sources for replacing the conventional petroleum products is an important issue. Since the vehicles are still using the internal combustion engines (ICEs), which use the petroleum products in their operations, transportation considered as a major contributor of carbon dioxide emission of human daily life is needed to be fixed urgently. The energy conversion in the ICEs contains several disadvantages such as low efficiency in energy conversion, noise, and air pollution. Using an electric motor instead of the conventional engines is receiving a high attention due to its advantages that overcome such problems. However, the major drawback of using electric motor is its power storage since it requires a long period of time to fill up the battery as compared to that of the conventional engines. This problem is one of the technological barriers to the commercialization of the electric vehicle. To solve this problem, several different methods, e.g., improving charging time of the battery, using a supercapacitor instead of the conventional battery, and switching the battery at the station; have been proposed and developed. However, the development of the battery with less charging time or the system which uses the supercapacitor are still on-going and need more advanced technologies. Therefore, at the present, the efficient switching system of the battery is more attractive.