Experimental determination of the effect of oxygen-supply impurities on fuel-cell performance



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An experiment to evaluate the effect on performance of inert diluent impurities in the reactant oxygen supply of an Apollo spacecraft fuel cell was accomplished. The experimental method utilized involved the operation of single (fuel) cells with three reactant oxygen supply purity levels. Constant current (load) was maintained and change in cell performance was measured as a function of voltage degradation versus time during the test run. Results of the experiment indicate that a somewhat direct relationship exists between reactant oxygen impurity level and operating time for a specified voltage decay. It is suggested that some mechanism involving inert blanketing of the oxygen electrode may be responsible for the voltage degradation experienced. Additional work is required to positively determine performance decay rates and mechanisms.