A unitized regenerative fuel cell (URFC) is designed and tested for energy conversion and storage under the support of a NASA funded student design project. The URFC is of the proton exchange membrane type with an active cell area of 25cm2. In the URFC design, liquid water is stored internally to the fuel cell within graphite bipolar plates while hydrogen and oxygen gases, electrolyzed from water, are stored in containers external to the fuel cell. A spraying technique is used to produce a functional membrane electrode assembly. Catalyst ink is prepared using E-TEK Inc. platinum and iridium catalysts loaded on Vulcan XC-72. Platinum catalyst is used for the hydrogen electrode. 50wt% platinum∕50wt% iridium catalyst is used for the oxygen electrode. The metal weight on carbon is 30% for both the platinum and iridium catalysts. Water management within the fuel cell is handled by treatment of the gas diffusion layer with a Teflon emulsion to create the proper balance of hydrophobic and hydrophilic pores. The single cell unit is tested in either fuel cell mode or electrolysis mode for different catalyst loadings. Polarization curves for the URFC are generated to evaluate system performance.

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