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Research Papers

Effect of Hydrophobicity in Cathode Porous Media on PEM Fuel Cell Performance

[+] Author and Article Information
Lijun Yang, Wenan Li, Xiaoze Du, Yongping Yang

Key Laboratory of Condition Monitoring and Control for Power Plant Equipment, Ministry of Education of China, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 7(6), 061012 (Aug 24, 2010) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4001051 History: Received October 26, 2009; Revised November 11, 2009; Published August 24, 2010; Online August 24, 2010

Water management is a key issue for the performance of a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Materials of the fuel cell would affect the water transportation in the flow field, thus influence, the overall performance of the fuel cell. A three dimensional, single-channel, counterflow model was built to analyze the performance of the PEM fuel cell. Different surface contact angles were set to the liquid water droplets in the catalyst layers (CLs) and gas diffusion layers (GDLs) to present the different wetting property characterizations of the materials. Assuming that the contact angle ranges from 75 deg to 150 deg, the liquid water content and distribution in the cathode GDL were investigated in details. Numerical analysis showed that the hydrophobicity of the structure affects the water transportation in the fuel cell significantly. Hydrophobic materials could lower the rate of water saturation in the flow field, thus preventing the water flooding in the cathode side. When the surface contact angles of the cathode CL and GDL were set to 135 deg, the liquid water content is least in the GDL. I-V polarization curves of the fuel cell with different materials were also developed to analyze the overall performance. As a result, proper hydrophobic material would lower the rate of cathode water flooding in PEM and benefit the performance of PEM fuel cell.

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Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Surface contact angle (θ) of liquid water on the solid surface

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Figure 2

The geometry diagram and mesh generation of single-channel PEMFC

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Figure 3

Volume average and maximum values of water saturation with different contact angles for the cathode CL and GDL

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Figure 4

Volume average and maximum values of water saturation with different contact angles for the cathode GDL while CL contact angles were set to 120 deg and 135 deg

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Figure 5

Surface average value of water saturation on the three cross sections surfaces with different contact angles for the cathode CL and GDL

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Figure 6

Distribution of water saturation on the cross section surfaces

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Figure 7

I-V polarization curve

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