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Technology Reviews

Fundamental Research Needs in Combined Water and Thermal Management Within a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack Under Normal and Cold-Start Conditions

[+] Author and Article Information
Satish G. Kandlikar1

 Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623sgkeme@rit.edu

Zijie Lu

 Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623zxleme@rit.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(4), 044001 (Aug 18, 2009) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3008043 History: Received August 25, 2007; Revised May 06, 2008; Published August 18, 2009

Each fuel cell component of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) used in automotive application operates most effectively (from performance and durability standpoints) within specific ranges of water content and temperature. The water and heat transport processes are coupled and present a challenge in providing the right balance over the entire range of operating conditions. Another important related aspect is CO poisoning of the electrocatalyst, which adversely affects the fuel cell performance. Freezing and cold-start present additional challenges for automotive PEMFCs. A critical review of the recent developments on these topics is presented in this paper. The study covers both the microscopic and macroscopic aspects of the transport within membrane, catalyst layers, gas diffusion layers, and gas channels, and an overview of the current PEMFC cooling technology. After discussing the current status, suggestions for future work on the above topics are presented.

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Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Schematic of water balance (a) and heat balance (b) of a PEMFC; not to scale

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Figure 2

Schematic representation of the catalyst layer structure and its composition; not to scale

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Figure 3

A representative temperature profile across a PEMFC (with embedded cooling channels in each bipolar plate) with individual layer thermal properties and typical heat generation values along the channel region section AA and land region section BB. Thicknesses and temperature gradients; not to scale

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Figure 4

A proposed CCL water transport mechanism showing the electrode reaction and the transport of product water in a catalyst layer; not to scale

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