In the early 1970s, the National Museum of
American History mounted an exhibition on energy conversion.
The U.S. Army offered to donate variety of images and objects
related to fuel cells. This photo shows both a complete
5 kilowatt PAFC and the engineering team that made it. Components,
but not the complete unit, were collected.
A note stapled to the photo reads: "Project
team for 5kw phosphoric acid fuel cell system, Allis-Chalmers,
1965." None of the team members are identified. A page
dated 18 July 1969 "prepared by Milton Jakola, U.S. Army"
describes the system:
"The most recent effort of the Army to develop
a fuel cell power plant is the Phosphoric Acid approach.
Hydrogen is obtained for this system by the thermal cracking
of logistic fuels. The oxygen is obtained from the air.
Current densities exceeding 100 ASF (amps per sq. ft.)
@ 0.75 volts have been repeatedly obtained.
"The system operates at 300o
F ± 10o. The elevated
temperature minimizes the effect of carbon monoxide which
is a by-product of the thermal cracking. Since the system
is acid, the problem of contamination by carbon dioxide
on the cathode is non existant. [sic]
"Component parts of the system are Viton
rubber gaskets molded on a tantalum screen. Folded stainless
steel manifold plates, these are gold plated to minimize
corrosion effects of the phosphoric acid. One complete
electrode package manufactured by Englehard Industries.
This package contains a sandwich type arrangement of an
anode, cathode, and the matrix containing the phosphoric
If you have information about this fuel
cell image, or PAFC technology in general, please fill
out the Collecting History questionnaire accessible through
the link at the top of the previous page.