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Research Papers

Computational and Experimental Studies on the Effect of Flow-Distributors on the Performance of PEMFC

[+] Author and Article Information
A. S. Bansode, T. Sundararajan

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai 600 036, India

Sarit K. Das1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai 600 036, Indiaskdas@iitm.ac.in

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 7(5), 051014 (Jul 19, 2010) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000678 History: Received March 31, 2009; Revised August 25, 2009; Published July 19, 2010; Online July 19, 2010

Effective supply of reactants and product-water removal are the key issues in proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) from the performance view point. Reactant distribution pattern can be one of the potential solutions for the well known water management problem in PEMFC. To study the effect of different flow configurations on the cell performance, three different flow-distributors, namely, parallel, serpentine, and mixed are analyzed numerically. A three-dimensional, numerical study was carried out in the three distributors for the identical reaction area. The effect of operating parameters such as flow rate and temperature was studied. The mixed flow-distributor is found to exhibit the best electrochemical performance as well as moderate pressure drop compared with the parallel and serpentine flow-distributors. The observation was confirmed by appropriate experimental study involving similar distributor geometries. Better reactant accessibility to the catalyst layer and moderate product-water removal from the cathode without diluting the reactant is argued to be the reason behind the better performance for the mixed-distributor.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Flow-distributors: (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed

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Figure 2

Flow-distributors machined on graphite: (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed

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Figure 3

Half-cell model of single cell with different flow-distributors: (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed

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Figure 4

Schematic of experimental set-up

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Figure 5

Effect of air flow rate on polarization curves for the three different distributors at Tcell=60°C

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Figure 6

Velocity magnitude (m/s) contour plots for (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed flow-distributor at mair=1 l/min and at Tcell=60°C

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Figure 7

Oxygen concentration (mol/m3) contour plots in channel for (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed flow-distributor at mair=1 l/min and at Tcell=60°C

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Figure 8

Effect of air flow rate on polarization curves for the three different distributors at Tcell=70°C

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Figure 9

Effect of air flow rate on power density curves of three flow-distributors at Tcell=70°C

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Figure 10

Effect of cell temperature on polarization of three flow-distributors at mair=1 l/min

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Figure 11

Effect of cell temperature on polarization of three flow-distributors at mair=2 l/min

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Figure 12

Effect of air flow rate on current density curves of three flow-distributors at Tcell=60°C

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Figure 13

Effect of air flow rate on current density curves of three flow-distributors at Tcell=70°C

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Figure 14

Comparison between experimental and numerical results of polarization for (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed flow-distributor at ṁair=1 l/min and at Tcell=60°C

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Figure 15

Comparison between experimental and numerical results of polarization for (a) parallel, (b) serpentine, and (c) mixed flow-distributor at ṁair=1 l/min and at Tcell=70°C

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