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Research Papers

Experimental Study of Air-Water Interaction in Presence of Powdered Wax Inside Simulated Gas Distribution Channel of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Abhijit Mukherjee1

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931mukherje@mtu.edu

Anthony Bourassa

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(3), 031011 (May 14, 2009) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3006352 History: Received June 18, 2007; Revised March 21, 2008; Published May 14, 2009

Low temperature fuel cells such as proton exchange membrane fuel cells are being currently developed to run cars and buses. Water management in these fuel cells is a key issue that needs to be adequately addressed for rapid development of the technology. The fuel cell reaction creates water that is typically carried away by the incoming air. However, at part load operations when the required air supply is lower, water droplets may fully block the air supply channels, leading to inefficient fuel cell operation. A solution to this problem is proposed taking a cue from tiny insects known as aphids that live inside plants. They excrete a watery substance called honeydew and get rid of this water using wax by encapsulating it into tiny droplets. In the present study, air-water interaction in a minichannel is studied in the presence of powdered wax. Air is forced into the channel inlet and water is pumped through a hole on the top wall of the channel. The movement of water inside the channel at different air velocities and water flow rates is recorded using a high-speed camera. Results indicate that the water droplets and slugs formed inside the channel are removed more rapidly in the presence of powdered wax. At the highest water flow rate and lowest air velocity used in this study the unwaxed channel gets completely flooded while the slugs of water continued to move forward in the waxed channel. Different two-phase flow regimes have been identified and plotted in both the waxed and unwaxed channels.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Colony of aphids with droplets of honeydew (http://oregonstate.edu.dept/nurspest/woolyashaphid/damage.htm)

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Figure 2

Generic fuel cell (http://www.energy.ca.gov/distgen/equipment/images/fuel_cell.gif)

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Figure 3

Experimental setup

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Figure 5

Water droplet on a waxed surface

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Figure 7

Droplet shear off in the waxed channel

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Figure 8

Unwaxed channel—variation in the receding contact angle of the top slug

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Figure 9

Unwaxed channel—variation in the advancing contact angle of the top slug

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Figure 12

Unwaxed channel—top slug growth

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Figure 13

Waxed channel—droplet growth on the bottom surface

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Figure 14

Time between two consecutive slug formations for the unwaxed channel

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Figure 15

Droplet departure time in the waxed channel

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Figure 16

Flow regimes—unwaxed channel

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Figure 17

Flow regimes—waxed channel

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Figure 18

Flow regime map for the unwaxed channel

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Figure 19

Flow regime map for the waxed channel

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Figure 11

Moving slug in a waxed channel

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Figure 6

Top slug formation in the unwaxed channel

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Figure 10

Completely flooded unwaxed channel

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