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Research Paper

Numerical Investigation of Water and Temperature Distributions for Open-Cathode Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stack With Edge Cooling

[+] Author and Article Information
Agus P. Sasmito

e-mail: ap.sasmito@gmail.com

Tariq Shamim

Mechanical Engineering,
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology,
P.O. Box 54224,
Masdar City,
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Erik Birgersson

Department of Chemical
and Biomolecular Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
5 Engineering Drive 2,
Singapore 117576, Singapore

Arun S. Mujumdar

Life Fellow ASME
Mechanical Engineering Department,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117576, Singapore

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received May 5, 2013; final manuscript received July 7, 2013; published online September 13, 2013. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 10(6), 061003 (Sep 13, 2013) (9 pages) Paper No: FC-13-1044; doi: 10.1115/1.4025054 History: Received May 05, 2013; Revised July 07, 2013

Portable and motive applications of open-cathode polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) require not only good stack performance but also a light and compact design. In this context, we explore how edge cooling with three different fin designs—one standard rectangular fin and two triangular fins that essentially halve the size of the fins—can improve the thermal and water envelopes inside the stack as well as stack performance while reducing the overall volume. The results suggest that all three edge-cooling designs give rise to lower and more uniform local temperature distributions as well as higher and more uniform hydration levels at the membrane in the stack compared to the conventional open-cathode PEFC without fins and design with additional air coolant plates. In addition, edge cooling design with one of the triangular fins yields the best performance (around 5% higher in term of power per unit catalyst area and power per unit weight as well as ∼10% higher in term of power per unit volume as compared to other designs). Overall, the triangular fin design shows potential to be used in, for example, automotive applications due to its high performance as well as lightweight and compact design.

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References

Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, 2013, “Horizon Fuel Cells,” http://www.horizonfuelcell.com/fuel_cell_stacks.htm (accessed January 2013).
Sasmito, A. P., Birgersson, E., Lum, K. W., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2012, “Fan Selection and Stack Design for Open-Cathode Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks,” Renew. Energy, 37, pp. 325–332. [CrossRef]
Lopez, A. M., Barroso, J., Roda, V., Barranco, J., Lozano, A., and Barreras, F., 2012, “Design and Development of the Cooling System of a 2 kW Nominal Power Open-Cathode Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stack,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 37, pp. 7289–7298. [CrossRef]
Sasmito, A. P., Shamim, T., Birgersson, E., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2012, “Computational Study of Edge Cooling for Open-Cathode Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks,” ASME J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol., 9(6), p. 061008. [CrossRef]
Rosa, D. T. S., Pinto, D. G., Silva, V. S., Silva, R. A., and Rangel, C. M., 2007, “High Performance Stack With Open-Cathode at Ambient Pressure and Temperature Conditions,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 32, pp. 4350–4357. [CrossRef]
Jung, G. B., Lo, K. F., Su, A., Weng, F. B., Tu, C. H., Yang, T. F., and Chan, S. H., 2008, “Experimental Evaluation of an Ambient Forced-Feed Air-Supply PEM Fuel Cell,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 33, pp. 2980–2985. [CrossRef]
Wu, J., Galli, S., Lagana, I., Pozio, A., Monetelone, G., and Yuan, X. Z., 2009, “An Air-Cooled Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell With Combined Oxidant and Coolant Flow,” J. Power Sources, 188, pp. 199–204. [CrossRef]
Barreras, F., Lopez, A. M., Lozano, A., and Barranco, J. E., 2011, “Experimental Study of the Pressure Drop in the Cathode Side of Air-Forced Open-Cathode Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 36, pp. 7612–7620. [CrossRef]
Silva, R. A., Hashimoto, T., Thompson, G. E., and Rangel, C. M., 2012, “Characterization of MEA Degradation for an Open Air Cathode PEM Fuel Cell,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 37, pp. 7299–7308. [CrossRef]
Strahl, S., Husar, A., and Serra, A., 2011, “Development and Experimental Validation of a Dynamic Thermal and Water Distribution Model of an Open Cathode Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell,” J. Power Sources, 196, pp. 4251–4263. [CrossRef]
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Sasmito, A. P., Lum, K. W., Birgersson, E., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2010, “Computational Study of Forced Air-Convection in Open-Cathode Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks,” J. Power Sources, 195, pp. 5550–5563. [CrossRef]
Sasmito, A. P., Birgersson, E., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2012, “A Novel Flow Reversal Concept for Improved Thermal Management in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks,” Int. J. Therm. Sci., 54, pp. 242–252. [CrossRef]
Barreras, F., Lozano, A., Barroso, J., Roda, V., and Maza, M., 2013, “Theoretical Model for the Optimal Design of Air Cooling Systems of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells. Application to a High-Temperature PEMFC,” Fuel Cells, 13(2), pp. 227–237. [CrossRef]
Sasmito, A. P., Birgersson, E., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2011, “Numerical Evaluation of Various Thermal Management Strategies for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Stacks,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 36, pp. 12991–13007. [CrossRef]
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Sasmito, A. P., Birgersson, E., and Mujumdar, A. S., 2011, “Numerical Investigation of Liquid Water Cooling for a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack,” Heat Transfer Eng., 32, pp. 151–167. [CrossRef]

Figures

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Fig. 1

Computational domain for open-cathode PEMFC stack (a) conventional design; (b) with additional air coolant plates and with edge cooling by (c) rectangular fin; (d) triangle fin 1 and (e) triangle fin 2. Note that the details for the conventional open cathode stack and with additional air coolant plates can be found in an earlier paper [2]; the detailed description of the design with rectangular fin is available in previous work [4].

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Fig. 2

SCCs for the open-cathode fuel cell stack for the conventional design (▼), the design with additional air-coolant channels (▶), with rectangular edge cooling (▲), with triangular fin 1 (●), and with triangular fin 2 (▪); FCC for a fan power of 19.5 W (◀), and operating point (○)

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Fig. 3

Comparison of the average stack temperature (···) and polarization curves (–) for the conventional design (▼), the design with additional air-coolant channels (▶), the design with with rectangular-edge cooling (▲), with triangular fin 1 (●), and with triangular fin 2 (▪)

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Fig. 4

Comparison of the standard deviations of the stack (a) current density and (b) temperature for the conventional design (▼), the design with additional air-coolant channels (▶), the design with rectangular edge cooling (▲), the design with triangular fin 1 (●), and design with triangular fin 2 (▪)

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Fig. 5

Local temperature distribution at the cathode catalyst layer for (a) the conventional design, (b) the design with additional air-coolant channels, (c) rectangular fins, (d) triangular fin 1, and (e) triangular fin 2

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Fig. 6

Local distribution of water content per sulfonic group (λ) at the middle of the membrane for (a) the conventional design, (b) the design with additional air-coolant channels, (c) rectangular fins, (d) triangular fin 1, and (e) triangular fin 2

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Fig. 7

Local distribution of current density generated at the cathode catalyst layer for (a) conventional design, (b) design with additional air coolant channels, (c) rectangular fins, (d) triangular fin 1, and (e) with triangular fin 2

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Fig. 8

Comparison of the performance of the stack in terms of (a) power per unit catalyst area; (b) power per unit weight; and (c) power per unit volume for the conventional design (▼), the design with additional air-coolant channels (▶), the design with rectangular edge cooling (▲), the design with triangular fin 1 (●), and the design with triangular fin 2 (▪)

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