On November 2, 2016 the Etobicoke Chapter hosted Professor Aimy Bazylak for an exiting lecture on fuel cells and the future of cars that run on renewable power. The talk was well attended and the audience was very invested in the topic, given the recent rise in popularity of electric vehicles.
About the Speaker :
Professor Bazylak earned a BEng in Engineering Physics from the University of Saskatchewan and a MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria, where she specialized in modelling microfluidic fuel cells. She then obtained her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria where she specialized in multiphase flows in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for clean energy. In 2008, Aimy joined the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor. She is currently an Associate Professor and holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Thermofluidics for Clean Energy. Since 2015 Aimy has served as the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at the University of Toronto. Professor Bazylak is also a licensed professional engineer.
Energy generated from wind and solar is potentially plentiful, but it is intermittent and thus it must be used immediately or stored for later use. Fortunately, a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer, powered by renewable electricity, can be used to generate hydrogen to fuel PEM fuel cells for on-demand electricity generation. A hydrogen PEM fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy stored as hydrogen into electricity, heat, and water without any greenhouse gas emissions. The PEM fuel cell and electrolyzer will enable the use of renewable energy sources. Fuel cell cars can be ultimately powered by the sun and wind; however, due to cost and inefficiency barriers, PEM fuel cells and electrolyzers have not yet reached widespread commercial adoption. Mass transport limitations such as liquid water flooding in the PEM fuel cell and oxygen gas bubble accumulation in the PEM electrolyzer lead to inefficiencies. If these issues become resolved, smaller and more reliable devices could be produced at a lower cost. In this talk, I will discuss my team’s techniques for analyzing the three-dimensional structure of the PEM fuel cell and electrolyzer gas diffusion layers and the microporous layers. I will also discuss how we combine experimental and numerical approaches to inform the design of next generation porous materials for advanced performance.