Air Compressors for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Systems
- What is the main function of the air compressor?
- What are the main types of air compressors?
- What are the main interfaces of an air compressor?
- Please also see this educational video on fuel cell turbo compressors
- Which are the main performance criteria for air compressors?
- List of some air compressor suppliers
Browse all fuel cell air compressors from leading suppliers on our marketplace!
What is the main function of the air compressor?
Fuel cells usually need a good supply of air to function. Air Compressors are used to push air into the fuel cell stack. The fuel cell extracts oxygen from the incoming air to enable the reaction at the cathode. In fuel cell systems, the air compressor is also sometimes called an air blower.
The performance of a fuel cell system depends significantly on the amount of air available. This makes the compressor one of the most critical components, especially in high performance fuel cell systems, where sometimes an electrically powered turbocharger (“e-turbocharger”) or a supercharger may be used to compress the air feed to the fuel cell stack.
When used in fuel cell systems it is often critical that the compressor does not introduce any impurities such as oil into the air flow, as this could be harmful to the fuel cells. This is the case for instance in applications with proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC).
What are the main types of air compressors?
There are several ways by which air compressors, or air blowers, can be categorized. For general purposes the following categorization based on their underlying technological principle can be used:
- Reciprocating Air Compressors (increase pressure by compressing the air in one or more compartments before ejection)
- Centrifugal Compressors (increase pressure by spinning the air using an impeller or other rotating device)
- Rotary Screw Compressors (two interacting rotors compresses the medium prior to ejection from the device)
What are the main interfaces of an air compressor?
Engineers integrate the compressor into the hydrogen fuel cell system at the following interfaces:
- Air loop
- Power Supply
- System Control
- Cooling System (optional)
Please also see this educational video on fuel cell turbo compressors
Which are the main performance criteria for air compressors?
The following parameters are key decision-making factors in the design and selection of a hydrogen fuel cell air compressor for a given application:
- Volume of air throughput (l/h, slph)
- Attainable pressure differential (∆p)
- Electric power consumption (kW)
- The degree of purity of the transported medium maintained by the compressor
- Cooling method (air/water/oil)
List of some air compressor suppliers
These manufacturers offer air compressors or blowers for hydrogen fuel cell systems:
- Busch Clean Air
- Fischer Fuel Cell Compressor AG
- Robert Bosch GmbH
- Rotrex A/S
Last update: 07.07.2023
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