Research Papers

Fluid Dynamic Investigation of Channel Design in High Temperature PEM Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
G. Falcucci1

 Department of Technologies,University of Naples “Parthenope,”Centro Direzionale - Isola C4, 80143 Naples, Italygiacomo.falcucci@uniparthenope.it

E. Jannelli, M. Minutillo, S. Ubertini

 Department of Technologies,University of Naples “Parthenope,”Centro Direzionale - Isola C4, 80143 Naples, Italy


Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 9(2), 021014 (Mar 19, 2012) (10 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005628 History: Received September 26, 2011; Revised November 12, 2011; Accepted November 30, 2011; Published March 09, 2012; Online March 19, 2012

In this paper we analyze the three-dimensional flow field in anode and cathode gas channels of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells operating at high temperature (T >100 °C). Different gas flow channel designs (pin-type, parallel channels, comb-tipe and multiple serpentine), as well as different channel sections (squared, trapezoidal and rounded with different curvature radii) are evaluated in function of some relevant parameters. The analysis is performed accounting for overall pressure losses, gas distribution over the electrode area and residence time with focus on channel hydraulic diameter, active surface ratio, gas path. Differences with low temperature (LT) PEM fuel cell design are also adressed. The investigation is conducted by means of 3D-CFD softwares and the results of our simulations are compared to experimental data in literature.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Different cathode channel layouts: (a), (b) and (c) are taken from [18]; (a) is the pin-type layout; (b) the channel configuration; (c) is the comb-type cathode pattern and (d) is the serpentine design

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Figure 2

Contours of relative total pressure [Pa], according to the different channel designs

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Figure 3

Bar graph of pressure losses in the different geometries of Fig. 1: present results (blue) and literature data (red) from Ref. [18]

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Figure 4

Residence times for the different gas channel layouts reported in Fig. 1: average, mimimum and maximum value. The serpentine layout shows the most isotropic fluid dynamic filed.

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Figure 5

Velocity magnitude (m/s) inside the different cathode compartments. It is evident how the serpentine layout, (d), is characterized by the most uniform fluid dynamic field.

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Figure 6

Comparison between two serpentine layouts

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Figure 7

Residence time inside the two serpentine layouts reported in Fig. 6: average, mimimum and maximum value

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Figure 8

Pressure losses (Pa) inside the two serpentine layouts reported in Fig. 6

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Figure 9

Sketch of the tested juction radii

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Figure 10

Pressure losses (Pa) as due to different values of inner junction radious: left, Rj = 1.1 mm; right, Rj = 0.2 mm

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Figure 11

CAD of serpentine-type cathode serpentine with trapezoidal cross section

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Figure 12

Relative total pressure [Pa] in the serpentine-type cathode compartment with trapezoidal cross section

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Figure 13

Two curved channel sections: (a) weakly curved, (b) strongly curved

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Figure 14

Sketch of the two curved sections considered in this work

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Figure 15

Pressure losses in the cathode compartment characterized by curved sections: left, weakly curved channels; right, strongly curved channels

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Figure 16

Comparison between HT PEM channel layout (a) and LT PEM channels (b)

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Figure 17

Different pressure loss according to different grid spacing for working conditions in Tables  118




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