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Research Papers

Channel Dimensional Error Effect of Stamped Bipolar Plates on the Characteristics of Gas Diffusion Layer Contact Pressure for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stacks

[+] Author and Article Information
Diankai Qiu

State Key Laboratory
of Mechanical System and Vibration,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University,
Shanghai 200240, China
e-mail: qdk2009@sjtu.edu.cn

Peiyun Yi

State Key Laboratory
of Mechanical System and Vibration,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University,
Shanghai 200240, China
e-mail: yipeiyun@sjtu.edu.cn

Linfa Peng

State Key Laboratory
of Mechanical System and Vibration,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University,
Shanghai 200240, China
e-mail: penglinfa@sjtu.edu.cn

Xinmin Lai

State Key Laboratory
of Mechanical System and Vibration,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University,
Shanghai 200240, China
Shanghai Key Laboratory
of Digital Manufacture for
Thin-Walled Structures,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University,
Shanghai 200240, China
e-mail: xmlai@sjtu.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 October 13, 2013; final manuscript received February 23, 2015; published online May 27, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Abel Hernandez-Guerrero.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(4), 041002 (Aug 01, 2015) (12 pages) Paper No: FC-13-1099; doi: 10.1115/1.4030513 History: Received October 13, 2013; Revised February 23, 2015; Online May 27, 2015

Thin metallic bipolar plates (BPPs) fabricated by stamping technology are regarded as promising alternatives to traditional graphite BPPs in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. However, during the stamping process, dimensional error in terms of the variation in channel height is inevitable, which results in performance loss for PEM fuel cell stack. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of dimensional error on gas diffusion layer (GDL) pressure characteristics in the multicell stacks. At first, parameterized finite element (FE) model of metallic BPP/GDL assembly is established, and the height of channels is considered as varying parameters of linear distribution according to measurements of actual BPPs. Evaluation methods of GDL contact pressure are developed by considering the pressure distribution in the in-plane and through-plane directions. Then, simulation of the assembly process for a series of multicell stacks is performed to explore the relation between dimensional error and contact pressure based on the evaluation methods. Influences of channel number, cell number, and clamping force on the constitutive relation are discussed. At last, experiments are conducted and pressure sensitive films are used to obtain the actual GDL contact pressure. The numerical results show the same trend as experimental results. This study illustrates that contact pressure of each cell layer is in severely uneven distribution for the in-plane direction, and pressure change is unavoidable for the through-plane direction in the multicell stack, especially for the first several cells close to the endplate. The methodology developed is beneficial to the understanding of the dimensional error effect, and it can also be applied to guide the assembling of PEM fuel cell stack.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of the PEM fuel cell stack with dimensional error

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Fig. 2

Schematic diagram of the study methodology

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Fig. 3

Schematic diagram of BPPs fabrication: (a) stamping process and (b) measurement results of channel height

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Fig. 4

Part of the parameterized FE model of multicell stack

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Fig. 5

Contact pressure of stack B for the in-plane direction: (a) σ and (b) Pmax and Pmin

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Fig. 6

Pressure change of stack B for the through-plane direction

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Fig. 7

Contact pressure of stacks A, B, C, and D with different dimensional errors for the in-plane direction: (a) σ, (b) Pmax, and (c) Pmin

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Fig. 8

Pressure change of stacks A, B, C, and D with different dimensional errors for the through-plane direction: (a) edge rib and (b) center rib

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Fig. 9

Contact pressure of stacks E, F, G, and B with different channel numbers for the in-plane direction: (a) σ, (b) Pmax, and (c) Pmin

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Fig. 10

Pressure change of stacks E, F, G, and B with different channel numbers for the through-plane direction: (a) edge rib and (b) center rib

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Fig. 11

Contact pressure of stacks H, F, and K with different cell layers for the in-plane direction: (a) σ, (b) Pmax, and (c) Pmin

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Fig. 12

Pressure change of stacks H, F, and K with different cell layers for the through-plane direction: (a) edge rib and (b) center rib

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Fig. 13

Contact pressure of stack F under different clamping forces for the in-plane direction: (a) σ, (b) Pmax, and (c) Pmin

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Fig. 14

Pressure change of stack F under different clamping forces for the through-plane direction: (a) edge rib and (b) center rib

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Fig. 15

Experimental validation: (a) metallic BPP, (b) 16-cell stack assembly, and (c) schematic of the stack assembly measured by sensitive film

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Fig. 16

Typical experimental results for in-plane direction: (a) pressure distribution contour from sensitive film and (b) measured pressure results

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Fig. 17

Experimental pressure change of the edge rib and center rib for through-plane direction

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