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RESEARCH PAPERS

Effects of Inlet Mass Flow Distribution and Magnitude on Reactant Distribution for PEM Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
M. McGarry, L. Grega

 The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey 08628-0718

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 3(1), 45-50 (Jul 20, 2005) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2134736 History: Received March 21, 2005; Revised July 20, 2005

The mass flow distribution and local flow structures that lead to areas of reactant starvation are explored for a small power large active area PEM fuel cell. A numerical model was created to examine the flow distribution for three different inlet profiles; blunt, partially developed, and fully developed. The different inlet profiles represent the various distances between the blower and the inlet to the fuel cell and the state of flow development. The partially and fully developed inlet profiles were found to have the largest percentage of cells that are deficient, 20% at a flow rate of 6.05 g/s. Three different inlet mass flow rates (stoichs) were also examined for each inlet profile. The largest percent of cells deficient in reactants is 27% and occurs at the highest flow rate of 9.1 g/s (3 stoichs) for the partially and fully developed turbulent profiles. In addition to the uneven flow distribution, flow separation occurs in the front four channels for the blunt inlet profile at all flow rates examined. These areas of flow separation lead to localized reactant deficient areas within a channel.

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Copyright © 2006 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

The geometry used for the numerical simulations

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Figure 2

A comparison of the results for the axial velocity from the 3D model along the mid-plane and the 2D model

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Figure 3

The section of the mesh near the entrance to the first four channels demonstrating the high density of elements in the region required to capture local flow structures

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Figure 4

The three inlet profiles, blunt, partially developed, and fully developed, used in the simulations corresponding to an average flow rate of 3.0g∕s

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Figure 5

The reactant distribution as a function of the cell number for a flow rate of 6.05g∕s for three inlet profiles used in the simulations

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Figure 6

The axial velocity in the top manifold 5mm above the entrance to cells as a function of the cell number for a flow rate of 6.05g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations

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Figure 7

The pressure drop between the top and bottom manifold as a function of the cell number for a flow rate of 6.05g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations

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Figure 8

The streamlines near the entrance to the first four channels for the flow rate of 6.05g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations

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Figure 9

The reactant distribution as a function of the cell number for three flow rates of 3 (one stoich), 6.05 (two stoichs), and 9.1(threestoichs)g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations

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Figure 10

(a) The streamlines near the entrance to the first four channels for the flow rate of 3g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations. (b) The streamlines near the entrance to the first four channels for the flow rate of 9g∕s for the three inlet profiles used in the simulations.

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