Fuel cells and heat exchangers have numerous similarities. Both technologies are used to produce an “energy-in-transit.” Heat exchangers foster thermal transport (heat) as a result of thermal potential differences between streams; fuel cells foster charge transport across electrodes (current leading to power) as a result of electrochemical/electric potential differences between the reactant streams and fuel cell electrodes. Additional analogs include series resistance formulations, active regions for transport phenomena and pertinent capacity rates. These similarities have motivated the extension of heat exchanger design philosophies to fuel cells development. Pilot simulations have been done wherein solid oxide fuel cell geometries and process settings are being optimized via electrochemical pinch points, electroactive area optimization (patterned after optimal area allocation within heat exchangers), electrode “fins” for diminished polarization, and electrochemical multi-staging (motivated by heat exchanger network concepts). The prevailing theme has been to bridge methodologies from the mature field of heat exchanger design to improve fuel cell design practices.

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