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Патент USA US3080452

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March 5, 1963
R. H.'HOBERT
3,080,442
APPARATUS AND PROCESS FOR THE CONVERSION OF HEAT TO ELECTRICITY
Filed Dec.
so, 1957
+
QIQ
“United grates atent
1
sesame
AFPARATUS AND PRUCE?S FQR THE CQN
VERSIQN Gil‘ HEAT T0 ELECTRICITY
Richard E . Hebert, Wamphaussic Point, RED. 1,
Stonington, Conn.
Filed Dec. 39, 1%‘7, Ser. No. 766,165
6 Ciaims. (Cl. 136-86)
ice .
$339,442
liatented lit/Ear. 5, 1963
2
fuel cell 28 and the water through the heat exchangers
2t) and 22 back to the thermal dissociator 14, as described
in more detail below.
Referring to the drawing in detail, the dissociator '14
5 receives water initially, and superheated steam subse
quently through a steam supply or return pipe 32 and,
in response to intense heat supplied by the external heat
source 12, converts a part of this water or steam into
hydrogen and oxygen gases, mixed with steam. The
This invention relates to apparatus and processes of
percentage of Water dissociated in the dissociator 14
10
converting thermal energy to electrical energy.
depends upon the temperature and pressure at which
{One object of this invention is to provide apparatus
dissociation takes place. The following table, for exam
and a process for converting thermal energy to chemical
ple, indicates the percentage of water dissociated at vary
energy and thence directly into electrical energy without
ing absolute temperatures in degrees Kelvin at various
requiring the use of steam turbines, driving mechanical
pressures in atmospheres, as calculated from theory and
electrical generators, as has heretofore been customary.
given in Table 8 on page 32 of Chapter 1B of the book
Another object is to provide apparatus and a process
“Properties of Ordinary Water-Substance,” by Dorsey,
for converting thermal energy to electrical energy wherein
published by the Reinhold Publishing Co., of New York,
heat from a suitable external source is employed to
N.Y., as No. 81 of the American Chemical Society Mono
dissociate a chemical compound, such as water, into its
component gases, which gases are then separated from 20 graph Series.
one another and recombined in a so-called fuel cell con
taining electrodes which give off electricity generated as
the result of the recombination of the gases.
Another object is to provide an apparatus and process
for converting thermal energy to electrical energy wherein 25
Tempera-
Pressure (atmospheres)
de ture
K .)
rees
( g
0.1
1.0
10.0
1, 500
2, 000
2, 590
3, 000
0. 043i
1. 25
8. 77
27. 7
0. 0202
0.579
4.17
14. 1
0. 00936
0. 269
1. 96
6. 85
the chemical compound produced by re-combination of
the component gases in the fuel cell is returned to the
dissociation device for repeated dissociation, thereby
re-utilizing the chemical compound as a working fluid
in a cyclical process and cyclically-operating apparatus.
Another object is to provide an apparatus and process
of converting thermal energy to electrical energy wherein
heat remaining in the component gases of the working
30
vThe same textbook also gives the following observed
values of dissociation for different temperatures at atmos
fluid or chemical compound after dissociation and sepa
pheric pressure.
Percentage
ration is transmitted from the gases before entry into the
fuel cell to the recombined Working ?uid or chemical
Temperature (degrees K):
dissociation
compound returning from the cell on its way back to
1783
_
_ 0.182
the dissociation device.
1863 ________________________________ .. 0.354
Another object is to provide an apparatus and process
1968 ________________________________ __ 0.518
of converting thermal energy to electrical energy which 40
2155 ________________________________ __
1.18
possess a high operating e?iciency of energy conversion
2257 ________________________________ __
1.77
which can approach that of a Carnot cycle heat engine
2337 ________________________________ __
2.8
operating between the same temperature limits.
2505 ________________________________ __
4.5
The drawing illustrates diagrammatically one form of 45
apparatus according to the invention, in which the process
Since the dissociation of the water into hydrogen and
oxygen takes place simply by elevating the temperature
of converting thermal energy to electrical energy can be
while maintaining a low pressure, dii’erent forms of dis
carried out, according to the invention.
The drawing in general shows diagrammatically a
sociators may be used according to the space and weight
thermal-to-electrical energy-conversion apparatus, gen
erally designated 16, by which a working ?uid, such as
water, converted into steam by the application of heat,
is partially dissociated by heat from an external source
12 in a thermal water dissociator 14 into its component
gases hydrogen and oxygen, the mixture of which is
partially separated into hydrogen gas and a mixture of
oxygen and water vapor in a gas separator 16 which may
be assisted by an auxiliary external source of heat 13.
The hydrogen-enriched and oxygen-enriched gases, sepa
requirements and efficiency and cost elements involved.
The dissociator 14 is therefore shown in a diagrammatic
form for ease of understanding, as consisting of a casing
34 containing a partition 36 separating it into a heater
chamber 38 containing the heater 12 and a dissociation
chamber 4t? in which dissociation takes place.
From the dissociator 14, the pipe 42 carries the mix
ture of hydrogen gas, oxygen gas and water in the form
of steam or water vapor into the gas separator 16. This
also in the drawing is shown as a single housing 44 con
rated from one another in the separator 16 are pumped 60 taining lower and upper chambers 46 and 43 separated
through hydrogen and oxygen heat exchangers 20 and
2?. respectively to impart their heat to returning working
fluid, after which the gases are passed through a gas
cooler 24, the water being returned to the returning
working ?uid through a water disposal unit 26, after which
the hydrogen and oxygen gases are separately fed into
an electrochemical fuel cell 28 where they are recom
bined into water, with electricity given off as a result of
this reaction. The water evolved in the fuel cell 28
weakens the electrolyte therein, hence the excess water
is separated from the electrolyte in an electrolyte water
remover 30 from which the electrolyte is returned to the
rom one another by a so-called gas diffusion membrane
50 consisting of a wall of material having very ?ne pores
which allow passage of the molecules of the gases, but
which act much as small individual ori?ces so that the
passage of the molecules through the membrane is re
stricted, and a pressure difference can be maintained
between the chambers 46 and 48 by means of pumps or
compressors 52 and 86. The material of the diffusion
membrane or barrier 50 is not critical and various types
of porous high temperature ceramic membranes or bar
riers are known to those skilled in this art and are avail
able on the market. Their details are conventional and
3
are“ beyond the scope of the present invention. Since the
velocity of e?usion of molecules through small .ori?ces
or di?usion membranes is inversely proportional to the
:4
Carnot cycle engine operating between the same tem
perature limits,~and this efficiency E can be expressed-as:
square root of the molecular weight of the gases, at
least on- a'statis'tical basis when-.thenbasesareat .a con
stant temperature and. pressure, thehydrogen molecules
will pass through the membrane with agreater velocity
than the oxygen and ‘water-molecules.
Due, however, to
the greatabundance of watermoleculesin the gas, since
only a small. percentage of the Water is dissociated, water
molecules-will also pass through‘ the membrane in con
siderable numbers. Hence, the, gas extracted ‘through
the pipe" 54' will consist of hydrogenandwater molecules
where
T2 is the absolute temperature ~. at which thermal energy
is supplied
T1 is the absolute temperature -at- which thermal energy
is rejected
E is the ideal thermal e?iciency.
From. this “it is evident-thata certain fraction of the
and a smallamount ‘of oxygen. The. auxiliary sourceof
energy whichis-supplied must be rejected as waste heat,
heat supply~18 may receive heat from the: same main 15 and.that.this.fraction-.is1~+E in the ideal case. .But
source of heat supply. 12, and effects :additional dissoci
since
ation while gas separation by- di?usion is taking place.
'-While the‘drawing, for purposes'ofv simpli?cation, shows
only asingle-stage gas separator 16, it ‘will :be under
stood that-in pra'ctice,‘multiple stages may be used. Fur 20 this isi-an .equivalenti expression‘v for the fraction of-the
thermore; to decrease the partial pressure of the hydrogen
thermal energy whichwmust be: rejected. Due to other
in the upper chamber 43 without requiring a large ‘pres
e?iciency. losses in-the: system, the thermal energy re
sure ‘drop ‘across the diffusion membranev 50,‘ an inert
jectedwill'beu-a largerJfraction of the thermal energy sup
gas may be introduced into the upper chamberé48. .This
plied. LThergas cooler-24 rejects ‘excess ‘energy and pre
inert gas, of any suitable character, must either be re 25 vents overheating. of :the: system. like ‘the cooling‘ systems
moved from the working ?uid before entering the cell 28
on conventionaltheatengines. From thermodynamic con
or it must be vented from the cell. .iIn either case, this
gas can then be recirculated to‘ the chamber ‘4-8 through
appropriate pressure-reducing valves. This gasdoes not
siderations, the.temperaturetofzenergy rejection should be
as .low;as..possiblecin order. to achieve the maximum e?‘i
ciency, .hence:.the.cell_i28ashould therefore operate at or
need to be inert, but it must be possible to separate the 30 near .thextemperature of energy rejection, whereas from
hydrogenggas therefrom without requiring large. amounts
electrochemical; considerations it must operate at a vmod
of energy or equipment. The use of such gas is op
eratetemperature in: order to- increase the rate of reac
tional, and the- separation; process can be maintained
tionsothat'thezsizeyweightand. cost-of the cell 28 can
without it, hence the equipment for handling such a gas
be kept within‘ reasonable limits. Since the gascooler 24
has not been indicated in the accompanying drawing. 35 ClOCS'T-IIOLZHGCdIO. operate at a temperature much lower
Such separationof gases by. means of diifusion is known
than‘ the'temperatureof operation of the cell "28, other
to physical chemists and 'is described, for example, in the
book “Textbook on vPhysical Chemistry,” by Samuel
Glasstone, Van Nostrand, New York, Second Edition,
than :the temperature differences required for condensa
tion inthercooler 24, and as a means of controlling the
temperaturewithin the cell 28, the temperature at which
1946, page 153 of which describes membrane dilfusion 40 heat ‘is rejectedis relatively high if the Bacon cell is used
including the separation of isotopes ‘by diitusion methods
as‘ the._cell..28. ‘The hydrogen to 'be cooled is pumped
and pagev 154 of which describes ‘thermal‘diflusion meth
through the coil 60‘ by a pump 79, which cooling reduces
ods; .also ‘the ‘book ' “Sourcebook 'on "Atomic Energy',” by
its-temperature : to ,a temperature suitable for handling
the . same ‘author and ‘publisher (‘1950),"pages 200 to
‘ within the electrochemical cell 28 and at the same time
204, “The Gaseous‘ Di?usion"M'ethods”;' also the book 45 removes water vapor by condensing it'to liquid water.
“Atomic Energy forv Military ‘Purposesf‘by H; B; Smyth,
The hydrogen thuscooled passes through a tank 71, pipe
Princeton'University“Press, 1945, ‘ pages 158-159 and
72, valve 74nandpipe 76 to the fuel cell 28. The water
175-186 in Chaper'X, “The Separation‘of the Uranium
condensedfrom the hydrogen in-the coil 60 is drained off
Isotopes by Gaseous Diffusion.”
through ..a :port v83controlled by a ?oat valve 85 and
The hydrogen gas from thehydrogen ‘chamber-.48 of the 50 through ap'pe 78_and check valve‘ 80 into a ‘pipe 82 lead
gas. separator 44 is pumped by a suitable pump'52 through
mg to a return line84.
a pipe'54 and heat exchange coil d6 within the hydrogen
; Meanwhile,z.the mixture of oxygen gas and water vapor
heat exchanger 20 by Way of a pipe 57 containing a valve
left.;in..thewlower chamberléti .of ‘the gas ‘separator 44 is
58 to a cooling coil 6h‘ within the gas cooler"24. A
pumped by:a,pun1p;36' through/apipe 88' into a heat ex
coolant enters the coolant chamber .66 which .is enclosed 55 change .coilif?tl :within the oxygen heat exchanger '22
within the casing62 by means of a coolant supply. pipe
whence it is pumpedby- a pump-98 through a >pipe92' and
64. A discharge pipe‘68 conducts the now-warm. coolant
valve"-‘9‘4t:;into:an :oxygen‘cooling'coil 96 also located in
out of the chamber 66. 'The purpose of the gas cooler
the coolingchamberse?of thegas cooler’24. The oxy
is three-fold. lit-furnishes a mechanism ifor rejecting
gen -.thus:cooled passes through -.a tank 99, pipe 1%, valve
waste heat to the atmosphere orother convenient heat 60 lltll-rand'pipeiltllt to the fuel cell-28. vThe water con
sink, it cools the component gases to facilitatethe re
densedv from the‘ oxygen in ‘the. cooling coilv 96 is drained
moval of a large portionof the entrained water vapor, and
offthrough aportltldcontrolled by a‘ ?oat valve 195 and
it reduces the temperature of the component gases to
througha. pipev 166' and ‘check valve 1% into the pipe 32
temperatures compatiblewith the requirements of the
and thence. into .the . return pipe 84.
Surge tanks 118
fuel cell,. and to maintain the appropriate temperature 65 and-112-respectivelyare connected by pipes 114 and 116
differences required in the operating system. The nature
to the pipes 72 and 101} immediately ahead of the valves
of the coolant will, in general, depend on the application.
'74 and 162 respectively.
For example, atmospheric, air could .be useddirectly for
The electrochemical fuelcell .28 in whichthe hydrogen
certain applications, whereas water orv low temperature
andoxygen gases'iare'recombined,. accompanied by the
steam might, prove attractive in others. The techniques 70 emissiomof electricity, is shown diagrammatically in ‘the
of heat rejection are well known to mechanical engineers
drawing asits, details are:conventional and hence are be
and are beyond the scope of the present invention. The
yondithe scope of the present‘ invention. .One suitable
need for a gas cooler-is evident from the second law of
fuel cell for thisjpurpose is‘known as the Bacon fuel cell
thermodynamics. The thermal efficiency .of the overeall
invented in England by Francis T. Baconand disclosed
energy. conversion process cannot exceedthat of .anideal' 75 and claimed vin.,the Bacon Patenti,2,716,67().-of August. 30,
3,080,442
5
1955, for Alkaline Primary Cells, and also described by
A. Adams in the journal “Chemical and Process Engineer
ing,” 35:1 (1954). The Bacon fuel cell 23 consists gen
6
?ows through the pipe 42 into the lower chamber 46 of
the gas separator 1a where further dissociation is assisted
by heat from the auxiliary heater 18, the ?ow being en~
hanced by the action of the pumps 52 and 86.
erally of a closed and gas-tight housing 129 having on
The high velocity hydrogen molecules pass rapidly
opposite sides thereof vertical hydrogen and oxygen gas 3: through the pores of the diffusion membrane as, where
passageways i122 and 124 respectively extending from
as the oxygen and water molecules, by virtue of their
top to bottom and having inlet ports 126 and 128 at the
higher
molecular weights, are traveling at much slower
top. Arranged within the housing 12% are two laterally
velocities, and hence a smaller fraction of the total num
spaced porous nickel electrode structures 134 and 136
ber of ox gen and water molecules pass through the
respectively spaced apart from and insulated from one an 10 membrane in any given time period. The action of the
other and from the housing 120, the spacing thcrebe
membrane 5% provides a means for separating, to some
tween providing a vertical central electrolyte passageway
extent, the molecules in a mixed gas, on the basis of their
138 having an outlet port 142 at the top and an inlet
molecular weights. Since the hydrogen molecules which
port ‘144! at the bottom.
pass through the membrane 5% and enter the chamber 48
The hydrogen supply pipe 76 is connected to the hydro
deplete the amount of hydrogen in the mixed gas in the
gen inlet port 126 of the electrochemical cell 28. Simi
chamber 46, there is a change in the partial pressures of
larly, the oxygen supply pipe 104 is connected to the oxy
the
mixed gases in the chamber 46. This favors the
gen inlet port 123. Concentrated electrolyte is supplied
further dissociation of the water molecules contained in
to the cell through the electrolyte supply pipe 156 which
these mixed gases provided that suflicient thermal energy
is attached to the inlet port 11-16. The electrolyte is
is added, as for example, by the auxiliary heater 1%.
pumped through the electrolyte supply pipe 156 from the
Thus, the fraction of water admitted to the dissociation
electrolyte water remover 31) by a pump 152, whereas an
chamber and separator, which is dissociated, may be
electrolyte return pipe 158 runs from the electrolyte outlet
larger than the value given in the dissociation products
port 142 back to the electrolyte water remover so while
the pressure is reduced by a throttling valve 154 to facili 25 listedin the table above provided that the products of
dissociation are withdrawn, and that the pressures in
tate the evaporation of excess water in the electrolyte
chambers 45 and 48 are maintained at their proper values
water remover. From the latter, the return pipe 34- con
by means of the pumps 86 and 52 respectively, by
taining the pumps 1&3 and 162 and the check valve 164
means of the adjusting valve 1%2, and by furnishing sul?
runs back to heat exchange coils 166 and H8 within the
hydrogen heat exchanger 20 and oxygen heat exchanger 30 cient thermal energy by heaters 12 and ‘18. It will also
be apparent to physical chemists that the degree of
22 respectively, these being provided with valves 17% and
purity can be improved by using multiple stages of dif
172, between them and the return pipe 84. A surge tank
fusion separators (not shown) and that other means may
174 is connected by a pipe 176 to the return pipe 84 be
‘be used to achieve or accelerate the separation of mixed
tween the pump 160‘ and check valve 164 and a drain pipe
‘178 is likewise connected to the return pipe 84 and pro 35 gases. The membrane diffusion separator 50 used in
the illustration indicates one method which has been
vided with a drain valve 186 for draining the pipe 84.
found attractive when one of the mixed gases is hydro
From the opposite ends of the heat exchange coils 166
and ‘163 the steam return or supply pipe 32 runs back to
the dissociation chamber 40 of the thermal water dissoci
gen. Other means of separation include but are not lim
ited to: changes of state, dilierential solubility in other
fluids, and intermediate chemical reactions with subse
ator 14 by way of a valve 182, completing the circuit. 40
quent decomposition facilitating the above methods.
A pressure relief valve 184 is connected by a pipe 186 to
The oxygen molecules and water vapor are pumped
the steam return or supply pipe 32.
by the pump 216 through the pipe 38 and heat exchanger
Multiple cell arrays or batteries of the cells 2% may be
coil 99, where the hot mixture gives up heat to the re
provided to furnish higher voltages by electrically con~
necting the cell 28 in series, and to furnish larger cur 45 turning steam passing through the coil 168 in the oppo
site direction. The oxygen, thus reduced, in tempera
rents by electrically connecting the cells 23 in parallel.
ture, is pumped by the pump 93 through the pipe 92 and
In any case, the fuel gases can be supplied to the cells
now-open valve 94 through the cooling coil 96 where its
by pipe lines in a “parallel” arrangement, and the electro
water vapor is condensed into water and passes through
lyte can be withdrawn and recirculated through a com—
mon water remover 31} in most cases. Special provision 50 the tank $9, port 1%, when open, pipes 1th’: and 32 and
check valve 1% into the return line 34. The oxygen,
should be made for the isolation of the electrolyte from
thus freed from water, passes through pipes 199 and HM
groups of cells 23 if a great many of the cells 23 were
and the now-open valve 162 through the oxygen inlet
arranged in series. This arrangement of multiple cells
port 123 and oxygen passageway 1241 of the fuel cell 28,
would use common inputs from common heat exchangers.
where it passes through the pores of the porous elec
In the operation of the apparatus 1i”; and in the car- .
trode 136 to the electrolyte in the electrolyte passage
rying out of the process of the invention, and assuming,
for example (but not by way of limitation), that the fuel
cell 28 is of the so-called Bacon type, a 27% potassium
way 13%.
a coolant such as water which is used for the removal of
up heat to the returning water or water vapor passing in
Meanwhile, the hydrogen gas which has passed through
the diffusion membrane 553 of the gas separator 16 into
hydroxide aqueous solution is supplied to the electrolyte
passageway 138 of the fuel cell 28 and circulated by the 60 the upper chamber 48 thereof has been pumped by the
pump 52 through the pipe 54 into the heat exchange coil
pump 152 and aided in its ?ow by thermosyphon action
56 of the hydrogen heat exchanger 29, where it gives
upward through the passageway 138. At the same time,
the opposite direction through the heat exchange coil
shown) through the pipe 64 to the gas cooler 24. Water 65 165 to the steam return and supply pipe 32. The hydro
gen gas, thus reduced in temperature, is pumped by the
or steam is initially supplied through the steam supply
pump “it; through the pipe 57 and now-open valve 5%
pipe 32 to the dissociation chamber of the water dissoci
through the cooling coil 6t) whence the Water condensed
ator 14 while heat from the heater 12 acts upon the
therefrom passes through the tank 71 and port 83, when
steam in the chamber 4%} to convert it to a mixture of
hydrogen (Hz), oxygen (02) and steam or water vapor 70 open, into the pipe 78. The hydrogen, thus freed from
water, passes through the pipes ‘72 and 76-, the now-open
(H2O). In accordance with the table given above, the
valve '74 and the hydrogen inlet port 126 into the hydro
temperature within the dissociator chamber 4t‘, is main
waste heat, is supplied from an external source (not
taincd as high as possible and the pressure as low as prac~
gen passageway 122 where it passes through the pores
of the nickel diffusion electrode 134 to the potassium
tical, preferably below 10 atmospheres, in order to ‘obtain
the maximum percentage of dissociation. This mixture 75 hydroxide electrolyte passing upward through the elec
7
‘trolytepassagewaylfltl. Meanwhile,-any tracesaof water
vapor-which mayhaveaccompanied the hydrogen gas
vfuel cell 23, but that electrodes of ‘other. suitable mate
through ‘the diffusion membrane ‘Ell-of the gas separator
16 are condensed'to liquid water, which?ows downward
:throughgthe pipes‘ 78 .and;82.,and the .checkvalve?tl to
thewater return pipe 84.
carbon. It will be furtherunderstood that while water
has been given as the working ?uid, the carrying- out of
the invention is ‘not limited to watenr-but may employ,
asa Working vfluid, other suitable liquid or gaseous work
ing ?uids made, up of dissociatable components which
Thehydrogen and oxygen are introduced into the elec
trochemical 'fuel cell .28 :in' the molecular proportions
‘2:1:andeventually-combine Within the'cell in a manner
:known to .electrochemists .and described in Bacon United
rials may optionally be used, suchas, for example, porous
when'recombined in ,the- fuel cell giveoff; electricity. One
such working liquidof thisncharacter ‘is: hydrogen-chlo
ride, whichoperates inJthe fuekcell by reduction ,of~chlo~
:States Patent No. 2,716,670 of August 30, 1955, to form -10 rine-at the external positive electrode or'cathodep and
:watenhence‘the details thereof are conventional and ac
oxidation of hydrogen atijthe external negative'electrode
cordingly beyond the?scope .of the present invention.
The water thus formed dilutes the electrolyte in thecell,
land the diluted electrolyte. is. removed through the. elec
:lIlIOlYI?. outlet port.142 through the- pipe 158 and valve
154 into the .water remover 30 Where the excesswaterris
‘or vanode, ‘using electrodes of platinum .or 'platinized
carbon.
What I claim is:
l. A. process of converting heat ,tol'electricity ,by~a
closed continuous thermodynamic-electrochemicalr cycle,
removed through the pipe'84-and the electrolyte, once
comprising
.again .at :its initial concentration,.re-enters the cell .28
applying ‘heat withina temperature range ,of 1700 to
through: thepipe .l?dandpump 152 .by means of the
2500 degrees vKelvin at pressures up tolapproximately
20
electrolyte inlet :port Mt). vvThe reactions .within the. cell
atmospheric pressure to -.a working l?uid composed
are :accompanied~by~the evolution‘ ofaelectrical energy
‘Of components separable by. dissociation. in order ,to
and-someheat. ,:The electrical energy is the .useful'end’
at least partially dissociate the lwo'rkingt?uid .intosaid
product of thecycle, and is conveyed to its ultimate use
separable components,
:by means .of the electrical conductors 192 and 194. De
physically separating the said components from-one
spite/the .fact :thatheat is-evolved in the battery, its tem 25
another vby means of di?usion ithroughhaporous
perature is :maintainedat favorable operating conditions
. high-temperature membrane,
by means of controlling the temperatures of .the fuel gases
. cooling the thus separated components to increase the
whichvare introduced, and by means of heat removal
‘fraction ofrthe energy‘available'for conversion to
:from' the electrolyte .in the .water remover. A cell heater
‘(.not.shown)>1may;.also.be.usedto heat the fuel cell 28 30
-so. as‘ to maintain the proper cell temperature under
transientaconditions when heat may be required, as for
example, when starting the system.
vAsa result of this: action, by withdrawal of ‘electrons
from the oxygen electrode Y136 and deposition .of elec
trons on the hydrogen: electrode1l34, a'i?OW' of electric
current takes place ‘through the conductors 192 and .194
and. the external circuit from the hydrogen electrode
134 backto the oxygen electrode 136. .The‘ fuel cell 28 40
during this operation-is preferably operatedat pressures
of '40 to i55atmospheres (approximately v600 to 800
pounds per square. inch), at' temperatures preferably ly
ing between 392° Rand 464° F. (200° C. and 249° C.),
the cell giving an open circuit voltage output of 1.0-5vo1ts 45
atthe above-named temperature and pressure.
Meanwhile,.the water- produced within the cell 28‘ by
the-above action :dilutes the electrolyte. ?owing through
the electrolyte passageway. 13821 a relatively slow rate,
the electrolyte being kept from excessive dilution .by 50
.theiactionof the Water remover?t), which extracts water
from "theelectrolyteand. returns .it through the return
pipe 84,,containingithe pump 1m and check valve 164
and thence throughthe heat exchange .coils -166 and 168
and'the steam return pipe32 torthev-water dissociator. l4,
completing the circuit.
t will be evident to those skilled in the fuel cell; art
that pressure-regulating valves,v relief valves, vents. and
condensate traps may be added to the circuit shownv in
electricity in a fuel cell and further cooling the ‘said
component to condense the-entrained Water vapor
thereof into water and to maintain the temperature
balance of the system and to reject waste heat,
~. subsequently conducting the thus-cooled ,separatedcom
ponents into an electrochemical fuel cell containing
an electrolyte,
recombining the thus conducted’ components within the
fuel cell to produce electricitywhile- dissolving the
reaction productsof the’ said components in the
velectrolyte of the fuel cell,
conducting away from the fuel cellto anexternal cir
cuit the electricity liberated during-the recombina
tion of said components,
subsequently withdrawing the .thus diluted» electrolyte
from the fuel‘cell at a reducedpressure causing the
working i-?uid
therein > to “ separate ~ therefrom by
evaporation,
returning the thus concentrated electrolyte to the fuel
cell,
returning the working ?uid separated‘ from the diluted
velectrolyte to the place of dissociation for redissocia
‘ tion by the further application of heat thereto,
‘and applying a portion of the-heat extracted from the
thus dissociated and separatev components to the
working ?uid returning. to the place of dissociation
whereby to-continuously recycle ‘the working ?uid-in
a closedlcyclic process which ‘is not dependent upon
an inde?nite supply of'a consumable working ?uid.
2. 'A process of converting heat toelectricity electro
the drawing for more improved operation and control of 60 chemically, according to claim 1, 'wherein'the working
thegas pressure at the various locations. After operation
fluid is water.
has oncecommenced, it ‘will also be evident that several
3. A process of converting heat to electricity electro~
of the pumps and valveswould not beneeded, being made
chemically, according to claim 1, wherein the vworking
use ofprincipally during the. starting and warmup period
?uid is hydrogen chloride.
of operation. For bringing the fuel cell .28 up to its 65
4. Avprocess of converting heat to electricity electro
proper operating temperature, a cell heater (not. shown)
chemically, according to claim 1, wherein the'condensed
maybe added and may be supplied with heat from an
working ?uid removed from the separated gaseous com
external. source (not shown).
ponents is also returnedto the place of dissociationfor
“ltwwill be understood that the carryingrout of this in
vention isgnot glimitedto the use of the?Bacon cell and 70 redissociation.
5. An apparatus ‘for converting heat toelectricityina
other suitable fuel cells: may be used, and the tempera—
closed continuous thermodynamic-electrochemical cycle
tures and pressures in the-system may be adjusted to the
with-the aid of a working‘ ?uid, composed, of components
most favorable conditions. . It will also be understood that
thecarryingoutofthis invention is not limited to the use
ofporousisintered nickel di?usion electrodes .as. in the 75
separable by dissociation, .said apparatuscomprlsing
. a heatractuated working ?uidpdissociator,
3,080,442
a heater disposed in heat~supplying relationship with
said dissociator,
a working ?uid component separator communicating
with said dissociator and containing a porous high
temperature membrane effective to separate the dis
sociated components from one another by means of
di?usion through said membrane,
said heat exchangers for applying to the return
ing working fluid a portion of the heat emitted
by said heat exchangers from the dissociated
and separated components of the working ?uid
passing therethrough whereby to provide an ap
paratus for continuously recycling the working
?uid in a closed cyclic process which is not de
pendent upon an inde?nite supply of a consum
a heat exchanger for each of said components com
municating with said component separator adapted
to cool the thus-separated components to increase 10
the fraction of the energy available for conversion
to electricity in a fuel cell,
a component cooler for each of said components com
municating with its respective heat exchanger adapted
to condense the entrained water vapor in said com
ponents into water and also to maintain the tem
15
cell,
is provided for conducting the condensed working ?uid
sociation by the further application of heat thereto.‘
heat,
means for conducting the thus-separated components
to said fuel cell for recombination therein to produce
electricity while ‘dissolving the reaction products of
the said components in the electrolyte of the fuel
able working ?uid,
and conductors connected to said fuel cell for transmit
ting to an external electrical circuit the electricity
produced in said fuel cell in response to the recom
bination of said components.
6. An apparatus, according to claim 5, wherein means
from the component cooler to the dissociator for redis
perature balance of the system and to reject waste
an electrochemical fuel cell containing an electrolyte,
10
said last-mentioned means communicating with
20
References Cited in the ?le of this patent
UNITED STATES PATENTS
25
1,056,026
2,384,463
2,581,650
2,581,651
2,716,670
30
457
means for withdrawing from the fuel cell the thus
diluted electrolyte,
Hoefnagle ___________ __ Mar. 18,
Gunn et al ___________ .._ Sept. 11,
Gorin ________________ __ Jan. 8,
Gorin ________________ __ Jan. 8,
Bacon _______________ __ Aug. 30,
1913
1945
1952
1952
1955
an electrolyte concentrator adapted to separate the re
combined working ?uid from the thus withdrawn
diluted electrolyte,
means for returning from said electrolyte concentrator
for thus-concentrated electrolyte to the fuel cell,
FOREIGN PATENTS
OTHER REFERENCES
Electrochemical Society, vol. 106, July-December 1959,
means for returning to said dissociator from the elec
trolyte concentrator the working fluid separated there
in from the diluted electrolyte for dissociation by
the further application of heat thereto,
Great Britain _________ __ Jan. 13, 1885
pages 1068, 1071.
35
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