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Research Papers

Numerical Simulation of Two-Phase Water Behavior in the Cathode of an Interdigitated Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Peng Quan1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202pquan@wayne.edu

Ming-Chia Lai

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 7(1), 011017 (Nov 11, 2009) (14 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3119083 History: Received December 05, 2007; Revised July 04, 2008; Published November 11, 2009; Online November 11, 2009

As an alternative to traditional reactant flow field design, interdigitated flow field configuration is also of interest to fuel cell design engineers and academic researchers. In this work, the two-phase flow behavior inside the cathode of an interdigitated proton exchange membrane fuel cell, including both gas flow channel and porous gas diffusion layer, is numerically studied. The effects of variable design and operational parameters, including channel surface wettability and operating pressure, on water behavior are investigated. A Darcy’s law based porous media model is used for the simulation of the two-phase transport inside the cathode gas diffusion layer, and some interesting two-phase behaviors, such as liquid water distribution under different operating condition, are observed. Compared with the water transport characteristics of a serpentine flow field, the current study shows significant difference for an interdigitated configuration, in terms of two-phase water transport. Although the interdigitated design is generally not considered viable for practical applications in fuel cell, it does provide a convenient platform for fundamental studies of multiphase transport and valuable insights in fuel cell design and optimization.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Multiscale water management in a PEM fuel cell

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Figure 2

Interdigitated flow field configuration (the portion embraced by the dashed line is the top-view of the computational domain for this work)

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Figure 3

Computational domain of an interdigitated air flow channel

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Figure 4

(a) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg. (b) Water distribution on selected cross sections inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg.

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Figure 5

(a) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 30 deg. (b) Water distribution on selected cross sections inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 30 deg.

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Figure 7

Water content history inside the outlet channel for simulation cases with different contact angles

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Figure 8

Normalized water thickness distribution in the GDL under the pressure drop of 1000 Pa for different surface contact angles: (a) 30 deg, (b) 45 deg, and (c) 75 deg

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Figure 9

Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 500 Pa and contact angle of 45 deg

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Figure 10

Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 4000 Pa and contact angle of 45 deg

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Figure 11

(a) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 6000 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg. (b) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 8000 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg.

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Figure 12

(a) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 10 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg. (b) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 20 kPa and contact angle of 45 deg.

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Figure 13

Water content history in the outlet channel for simulation cases with different operating pressure drops

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Figure 14

Normalized water thickness distribution in the GDL for different operating pressures: (a) 500 Pa, (b) 1000 Pa, (c) 1500 Pa, (d) 2000 Pa, (e) 3000 Pa, (f) 6000 Pa, (g) 10,000 Pa, and (h) 20,000 Pa

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Figure 15

Volumetrically integrated water saturation in the GDL versus pressure drop variation

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Figure 6

(a) Water distribution inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 75 deg. (b) Water distribution on selected cross sections inside the inlet/outlet channel and the GDL under pressure drop of 1000 kPa and contact angle of 75 deg.

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