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Research Papers

Numerical Analysis of Water Transport Through the Membrane Electrolyte Assembly of a Polymer Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Xu Zhang1

Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, National Research Council Canada, 4250 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1W5, Canadaxu.zhang@nrc.gc.ca

Datong Song, Qianpu Wang, Cheng Huang, Zhong-Sheng Liu

Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, National Research Council Canada, 4250 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1W5, Canada

A. A. Shah

School of Engineering Sciences, Southampton University, Southampton SO171BJ, UK

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 7(2), 021009 (Jan 06, 2010) (14 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3177448 History: Received March 03, 2008; Revised October 31, 2008; Published January 06, 2010; Online January 06, 2010

The effects of water transport through membrane electrolyte assembly of a polymer exchange membrane fuel cell on cell performance has been studied by a one-dimensional, nonisothermal, steady-state model. Three forms of water are considered in the model: dissolved water in the electrolyte or membrane, and liquid water and water vapor in the void space. Phase changes among these three forms of water are included based on the corresponding local equilibriums between the two involved forms. Water transport and its effect on cell performance have been discussed under different operating conditions by using the value and the sign of the net water transport coefficient, which is defined by the net flux of water transported from the anode side to the cathode side per proton flux. Optimal cell performance can be obtained by adjusting the liquid water saturation at the interface of the cathode gas diffusion layer and flow channels.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Schematic of simulation domains

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Figure 2

The agglomerate structure

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Figure 3

A schematic of mass transfer among the three forms of water

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Figure 4

Reaction rate profile in the cathode catalyst layer for the base case

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Figure 5

Oxygen concentration profile in the cathode catalyst layer for the base case

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Figure 6

Net water transport coefficient versus current density for the base case

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Figure 7

Water content distribution through the whole MEA for the base case

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Figure 8

Temperature profile through the MEA for the base case

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Figure 9

The various heat sources as a function of current density in the cathode catalyst layer for the base case

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Figure 10

Polarization curves for different accumulation levels of liquid water at the cathode side

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Figure 11

Water content distributions through the MEA at different current densities for different sc values

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Figure 12

Oxygen concentration at the interface of the cathode catalyst layer and membrane

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Figure 13

The net water transport coefficient β, as a function of current density at different saturation boundary conditions

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Figure 14

Optimal liquid water saturation versus the immobile saturation

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Figure 15

Value of β versus current density for different relative humidities for the base case

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Figure 16

Performance dependence on relative humidities for the base case

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Figure 17

Water content distributions in the membrane for different relative humidity combinations in the anode and cathode channels

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