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Microbalance Plays Crucial Role in Development of Fuel Cells

UK-based CI Precision has supplied a microbalance kit to Protonex, the USA-based developer of fuel cell systems for portable, remote and mobile applications in the 10W to 1kW range. This microbalance is incorporated within custom apparatus for establishing the optimum operating parameters for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).

The apparatus is helping the development team to establish the thermodynamic conditions under which carbon forms on the fuel cells, as the formation of carbon reduces fuel cell performance. Prior to the microbalance being purchased, Protonex had no quantitative capability for establishing the point at which carbon starts to form; the microbalance is therefore playing a crucial role in mapping the optimum operating parameters for the company’s fuel cells.

Typically the apparatus operates with a mixture of reformed hydrocarbons, so the microbalance head – which benefits from an optional PTFE coating – is subjected to gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water vapour and trace hydrocarbons. The operating temperature varies between ambient and 800 degrees C, depending on the experiment being performed.

Dr Joe Proshusta, the Senior Project Engineer at Protonex, explains why a microbalance kit was purchased from CI Precision:

“We needed to be able to connect the fuel processor to the sample chamber, so a conventional standalone microbalance was not suitable. However, CI Electronics offers a microbalance in kit form, so we were able to build the microbalance head into our own design of apparatus to do exactly what we want it to.”

In addition to the CI MK2-M5 microbalance head, the kit included a DISBAL control unit, temperature controller, LabWeigh software and universal attachment glassware, plus cables and accessories (suspension rods and pans).

Dr Proshusta comments:

“We have now been operating the apparatus for around one year and the microbalance head and associated hardware have proven to be 100 per cent reliable.”

For more information about microbalance kits and accessories from CI Precision, please telephone +44 (0) 1722 424100 or e-mail

Microbalance Plays Crucial Role in Development of Fuel Cells

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