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Research Papers

Orientation-Dependent Performance of Portable Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
Jen-Chieh Lee1

Department of Marine Engineering, National Taiwan Ocean University, 20224, Keelung, Taiwanb0148@ntou.edu.tw

Tony Shay

School of Engineering Technology, Eastern Michigan University, 48197, Ypsilanti, MItshay@emich.edu

Song-Kuo Chang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chinese Culture University, 11114, Taipei, Taiwanskchan@staff.pccu.edu.tw

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 8(3), 031007 (Feb 18, 2011) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003162 History: Received April 19, 2010; Revised November 10, 2010; Published February 18, 2011; Online February 18, 2011

The effects of gravitational force on the orientation-dependent performance of portable proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell using serpentine flow channels were investigated by the measurement and analysis of polarization curves. Whether the removal of produced water in the cathode flow channel is resisted or assisted by the gravity depends on the orientation variation, flow direction, and flow channel distribution of a fuel cell. This gravity will then affect the fuel cell performance, especially for fuel cells operating at a high current density. The results show that a fuel cell with perpendicular flow channel distribution and cathode gas flow in vertical direction requires a longer distance of pushing liquid droplets against gravity to remove the produced water, which is difficult to expel the produced water from the flow channels, and the performance reduction is obviously in high current density. A fuel cell operating in a normal position achieves higher performance than one operating in a horizontal position, except the cathode gas flow in vertical direction and feed from lower inlet. Furthermore, for a fuel cell operating in a horizontal position with anode below the membrane, gravitational force transports the water to the anode and blocks the fuel channel in the gas diffusion layer. This leads a fuel cell operating in high current densities with the cathode below the membrane performs better than one with the cathode above the membrane. Therefore, to reduce the effects of gravity on the orientation-dependent performance, a fuel cell with parallel flow channel distribution and feeding the cathode gas from the upper inlet port is recommended in this study.

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Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Single fuel cell in normal position (left) and horizontal position (right)

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Figure 2

Fabrication procedures of microflow channel in bipolar plate

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Figure 3

Perpendicular flow channel distribution between anode and cathode

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Figure 4

Parallel flow channel distribution between anode and cathode

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Figure 5

Effect of flow channel distribution on fuel cell performance

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Figure 6

Effect of gas inlet and upside down on a parallel flow channel distribution fuel cell performance

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Figure 7

Effect of flow direction and flow rate on fuel cell performance

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Figure 8

Effect of gas inlet on performance of fuel cell with vertical flow direction in anode

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Figure 9

Effect of upside down on a perpendicular flow distribution fuel cell performance

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Figure 10

Effect of lying horizontally on a parallel flow distribution fuel cell performance

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Figure 11

Effect of lying horizontally on a perpendicular flow distribution fuel cell performance with vertical flow direction in anode

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Figure 12

Effect of lying horizontally on a perpendicular flow distribution fuel cell performance with vertical flow direction in cathode

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