A small radio-frequency (rf) coil inserted into a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) can be used to acquire nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signals from the water in a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) or in oxygen gas channels in the PEFC. Measuring the spatial distribution of the water in a large PEFC requires using many rf probes, so an NMR measurement system which acquires NMR signals from 128 rf probes at intervals of 0.5 s was manufactured. The system has eight rf transceiver units with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) for modulation of the excitation pulse and quadrature phase detection of the NMR signal, and one control unit with two ring buffers for data control. The sequence data required for the NMR measurement were written into one ring buffer. The acquired NMR signal data were then written temporarily into the other ring buffer and then were transmitted to a personal computer (PC). A total of 98 rf probes were inserted into the PEFC that had an electrical generation area of 16 cm × 14 cm, and the water generated in the PEFC was measured when the PEFC operated at 100 A. As a result, time-dependent changes in the spatial distribution of the water content in the MEA and the water in the oxygen gas channels were obtained.
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