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Research Papers

Lattice Boltzmann Modeling of Water Cumulation at the Gas Channel-Gas Diffusion Layer Interface in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
Dario Maggiolo

Department of Industrial Engineering,
University of Padua,
Via Gradenigo 6/A,
Padova 35131, Italy
e-mail: dario.maggiolo@unipd.it

Andrea Marion

Department of Industrial Engineering,
University of Padua,
Via Gradenigo 6/A,
Padova 35131, Italy
e-mail: andrea.marion@unipd.it

Massimo Guarnieri

Department of Industrial Engineering,
University of Padua,
Via Gradenigo 6/A,
Padova 35131, Italy
e-mail: massimo.guarnieri@dii.unipd.it

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received July 11, 2014; final manuscript received October 7, 2014; published online November 14, 2014. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 11(6), 061008 (Dec 01, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1083; doi: 10.1115/1.4028952 History: Received July 11, 2014; Revised October 07, 2014; Online November 14, 2014

Several experiments have proved that water in liquid phase can be present at the anode of a PEM fuel cell due to vapor condensation resulting in mass transport losses. Nevertheless, it is not yet well understood where exactly water tends to cumulate and how the design of the gas channel (GC) and gas diffusion layer (GDL) could be improved to limit water cumulation. In the present work, a three-dimensional lattice Boltzmann based model is implemented in order to simulate the water cumulation at the GC–GDL interface at the anode of a PEM fuel cell. The numerical model incorporates the H2–H2O mixture equation of state and spontaneously simulates phase separation phenomena. Different simulations are carried out varying pressure gradient, pore size, and relative height of the GDL. Results reveal that, once saturation conditions are reached, water tends to cumulate in two main regions: the upper and side walls of the GC and the GC–GDL interface, resulting in a limitation of the reactant diffusion from the GC to the GDL. Interestingly, the cumulation of liquid water at the interface is found to diminish as the relative height of the GDL increases.

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References

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The 92-neighbors fluid sites of the two-belt three-dimensional lattice [17,18]; the dark circles and gray circles indicate sites belonging to the first and second belt, respectively

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Sketch of the simulation domain for h = 0.3, dp = 33 μm, ds = 67 μm, φ=0.69 and density field at equilibrium. The darker zones indicate liquid density.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Scheme of a GC and GDL cross section of a PEMFC. The dashed line indicates the simulation domain cross-sectional area.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Comparison between the lattice-Boltzmann EOS and the Rimbach and Chatterjee EOS [20]. The square-shaped markers indicate the gas (i.e., ρgas ∼ 0.028) and liquid (i.e., ρliq ∼ 2.5) equilibrium phases at Psat.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Number of liquid phase sites over total fluid sites versus the relative GDL height h = HGDL/H: (a) for a fixed pressure gradient and (b) for a fixed Reynolds number in the GC

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Number of liquid phase sites over total fluid sites in the TL versus the relative GDL height h = HGDL/H: (a) for a fixed pressure gradient and (b) for a fixed Reynolds number in the GC

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Liquid-phase fluid sites location in the cross-sectional area and TL location for three different values of the relative GDL height h: (a) h = 0.3, (b) h = 0.6, and (c) h = 0.9

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Mean density values of sites that overcome the initial metastable density value in the TL and in the whole domain with varying the relative GDL height h for: (a) φ=0.69, dp = 33 μm, ds = 67 μm and (b) φ=0.84, dp = 50 μm, ds = 50 μm

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