Dr. Van Zee studies fuel cells with experimental and computational methods. His current focus is with Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) and with metal-H2O2 semi fuel cells. The experimental and computational efforts are complimentary because the models are verified with water-balance and average current/voltage data and because often it is easier to test hypotheses with the models prior to performing designed experiments. On the other hand, the PEMFC experimental facilities in Dr. Van Zee's laboratory allow for investigations that foster new developments with the mathematical models and computational schemes.
Dr. Van Zee, his students and his co-workers are interested in quantitatively determining measurable parameters that can be used to scale designs from laboratory-size reactors to full-scale fuel cells and batteries. This is accomplished by comparing the mathematical models with the experimental data and by determining electrochemical rate constants and mass transfer coefficients in a manner similar to that used in traditional chemical engineering.
In addition to fuel cells Dr. Van Zee has studied the electrochemical engineering aspects of nickel electrode preparation, nitrate reduction for waste minimization, and hydrogen storage in fullerene-based nanotube materials. His accomplishments include a description of nickel-hydroxide precipitation at both planar and porous electrodes. His group has developed mathematical models that can be used by manufacturers of satellite batteries to insure that the uniform deposition, needed for long cycle life, has occurred.
R. Mohtadi, W.-k. Lee, S. Cowan, J. W. Van Zee and M. Murthy, “Effect of Hydrogen Sulfide on the Performance of PEM Fuel Cells”, Electrochemical and Solid States Letters, 6, (12) A272-274 (2003).
Herie J. Soto, W-k. Lee, J. W. Van Zee and Mahesh Murthy, “The Effect of Transient Ammonia Concentrations on PEMFC Performance”, Electrochemical and Solid State Letters, 6, (7) A133-A135 (2003).
W-k. Lee, S. Shimpalee and J. W. Van Zee, “Verifying Predictions of Water and Current Distributions in a Serpentine Flow-Field PEMFC”, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 150, (3), A341-A348 (2003).
Mahesh Murthy, Manuel Esayian, Woo-kum Lee and J. W. Van Zee, “The Effect of Temperature and Pressure on the Performance of a PEMFC Exposed to Transient CO Concentrations", Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 150, A29-A34 (2003).
Mahesh Murthy, Manuel Esayian, Alex Hobson, Steve MacKenzie, Woo-kum Lee and J. W. Van Zee, “The Performance of a PEM Fuel Cell Exposed to Transient CO Concentrations”, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 148 (10) A1141-A1147 (2001).