Introduction

Since 1991, 5MW-cIass and lMW-class PAFC power plants have been demonstrated with the objective of accelerating development and commercialization by the Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell Technology Research Association (PAFC-TRA) jointly with NEDO as one of MITI's fuel cell programs. As a complimentary research project to the demonstration project, the mechanism and rate of deterioration of the cells and stacks have been studied from 1995 FY, with the objective of establishing an estimation method for the service life-time of the cell stacks. Our work has been performed in the Basic Research Project, as part of that project on PAFCs, with the cooperation of Yamanashi University supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, PAFC-TRA supported by NEDO and three PAFC makers. We have selected the following four subjects as the essential factors relating to the life-time, after a year-long study of the literature and the accumulation of a large number of data as to the practical operations of the cells, cell stacks and plants of PAFCs; i.e.,

1) Mechanism of the degradation of electrocatalysts and the effect of the degradation on the electrode performances.

2) Effect of the electrolyte fill-level on the electrode performances.

3) Corrosion of cell constructing materials and the effect of the corrosion on the electrode performances.

4) The rate and mechanism of electrolyte loss under various operating conditions of a model cell. The paper briefly introduces the interim results which have been found on the above subjects at this time.

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