September 18, 2001 — MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Global filtration solutions expert Donaldson Company, Inc. recently introduced its air-borne contaminant and noise filtration systems designed specifically for fuel cell applications.
Donaldson FC3 products, presented by the company’s new Fuel Cell Contamination Control business unit at the Grove International Fuel Cell Symposium in London, are being used in jointly funded contamination control research at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Donaldson has established FC3 offices in North America, Asia and Europe and is working with multiple fuel cell manufacturers and fuel cell-powered product developers to make the technology a commercially viable power source for a wide range of transportation, residential and portable applications. The company says that improved understanding of fuel cell contamination problems is a critical component in commercialization.
The operating principle of fuel cells involves no combustion. The system converts hydrogen’s chemical energy directly into direct current (DC) power potentially capable of powering everything from cell phones to submarines. The only waste byproducts created by the fuel cell process are heat and water.
“Intake-air — or cathode-side — filtration is a crucial component for ensuring fuel cell reliability and performance, but it’s just now being included as a core subsystem,” said Eivind Stenersen, chief engineer of the Donaldson FC3 business unit. “Ambient air in all corners of the world contains contaminants that can compromise the fuel cell system durability, life and performance. To make the leap from the lab to the marketplace, fuel cells will require particulate and chemical filtration of the cathode air. Donaldson Company filtration and acoustic sciences make us uniquely qualified to design and manufacture the most comprehensive, compact, and effective answer.”
Fuel cell development to date has occurred in the controlled environment of the laboratory, where the air is relatively free of real-world contaminants. Donaldson Company air quality studies conducted on every continent show that ambient air carries enough pollution to adversely affect hydrogen fuel cell reliability. Sub-micrometer-sized particles, salts, oils, chemicals and volatile organic compounds – which shorten fuel cell life – are all found in varying degrees in the atmosphere.
In addition to extending fuel cell life by shielding the system from air-borne contaminants, Donaldson FC3 cathode-side filtration also integrates noise control features to quiet noise from fuel cell compressors and fans.