Research Papers

Effect of Compressive Pressure on the Contact Behavior Between Bipolar Plate and Gas Diffusion Layer in a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Guo Li

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Nanjing Institute of Technology,
Nanjing, Jiangsu 211167, China
e-mail: liguoperfect@163.com

Jinzhu Tan

School of Mechanical and Power Engineering,
Nanjing University of Technology,
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210009, China
e-mail: tanjznjut@njut.edu.cn

Jianming Gong

School of Mechanical and Power Engineering,
Nanjing University of Technology,
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210009, China
e-mail: gongjm@njut.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received February 23, 2012; final manuscript received February 12, 2014; published online April 23, 2014. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 11(4), 041009 (Apr 23, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: FC-12-1016; doi: 10.1115/1.4027253 History: Received February 23, 2012; Revised February 12, 2014

The clamping force during the assembly of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells has a great influence in the contact resistance between bipolar plate (BPP) and gas diffusion layer (GDL). In this paper, three different types of carbon papers are used as GDL materials. The contact resistance between BPP and GDL is measured under different applied clamping torques. Based on experimental data, a relationship of compressive pressure resulting from the applied clamping torque and contact resistivity is established by the least square method. Based on the commercial code abaqus, a program is developed to predict the contact resistivity. In addition, the changes of contact pressure, contact area, and porosity of GDL are studied. The experimental result shows that the contact resistivity nonlinearly decreases with increasing of the applied clamping torque. The thicker GDL without fillers has a higher contact resistivity. Finite element analysis (FEA) results show that both contact area and contact pressure increase with increasing of the compressive pressure in the same fillet radius of the rib, except that the fillet radius is zero. The porosity decreases with increase of the clamping force. The contact resistivity is consistent with the experimental results. So it can be predicted very well.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of a single PEM fuel cell

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Fig. 2

Experimental setups: (a) setup 1; (b) setup 2

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Fig. 3

The test results of the contact resistance between BPP and GDL

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Fig. 4

FEA model of a bipolar plate contacting with GDL: (a) geometry; (b) mesh; and (c) local mesh

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Fig. 5

Contact area and contact pressure versus clamping pressure and radius

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Fig. 6

Stress distribution and deformation of GDL: (a) stress distribution and deformation; (b) stress distribution at right angle corner

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Fig. 7

Contact resistivity from FEA results and experimental data

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Fig. 8

Porosity changes of GDL under various compressive pressures: (a) void ratio contour under the compressive pressure of 3.2 MPa for HCP020P; (b) void ratio contour under the compressive pressure of 3.2 MPa for HCP030P; and (c) void ratio values along Path 1 and Path 2




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