• Alexander Fritot

  • Theme:Chemical Energy Converters
  • Project:CFD Modelling of Fuel Cell Lifetime
  • Supervisor: Tom Fletcher
  • The Gorgon's Head - Bath University Logo

Bio

Alex graduated from the University of Brighton with a First Class Honours in Automotive Engineering and has recently completed an MSc in Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University. During this time his passion for the automotive industry has grown exponentially, with a deep interest into advancing current internal combustion engine feasibility.


As an undergraduate, Alex' final year project looked at the fluid dynamics of the human cochlea using CFD techniques. This was aimed at modelling processes inside the cochlea channel with relation to acoustic oscillations in comparison to pure mixing. This was an exploratory study for a larger scale collaboration between the Advanced Engineering centre and the Sensory Neuroscience Research Group.


In terms of potential areas in which to conduct his research project, Alex would love to amalgamate his passion of internal combustion engines with the more recently gained interest in fluid dynamics. Through his experience at AAPS, Alex hopes to broaden his knowledge in the automotive propulsion industry and gain a more complete understanding of how we can tackle the emissions crisis in the current climate.

FunFacts

  • My biggest fear is sticky labels
  • I won a blindfolded crisp tasting competition
  • I have a scratch off map of the world to track the different countries I visit
  • I always read the plot and ending to a film before watching it so I know what happens

CFD Modelling of Fuel Cell Lifetime

The development of a hydrogen economy is a key part of the UK’s commitment to net zero as recommended by the Climate Change Committee. Whereas battery electric vehicles are expected to satisfy the vast majority of light duty vehicle applications, their limited gravimetric energy density means that they are unsuitable for many energy-dense applications such as long-distance haulage, shipping, rail and aviation. Equally, long charging times significantly affect their suitability for high availability applications.

Fuel cells overcome this issue by separating the energy storage from the energy conversion, enabling refuelling times similar to those of conventionally fuelled vehicles (<5 minutes) while maintaining zero emissions at the point of use. However, durability is key challenge for fuel cells in these markets where the system lifetime target is 25,000 hours (by 2030) and 1 million miles for Class 8 truck applications according to the US DoE.

The aim of this project is to investigate the links between fuel cell design and aging mechanisms in order to allow comparison between different component technologies and manufacturing methods. The project will use transient three-dimensional CFD techniques, at the cell level, over a range of membrane, catalyst and support structure types in order to estimate the rate of MEA performance loss under realistic loading conditions. In particular, this work will extend previous work in this area [1] by investigating the effect of development of fuel cell degradation mechanisms over extended periods of time.

This work will help inform decision making processes regarding not only fuel cell design, but also future research requirements, accelerated testing procedures and control strategies.

© Copyright 2021 AAPS CDT, Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems at the University of Bath