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Research Papers

The Effect of Nonuniform Under-Rib Convection on Reactant and Liquid Water Distribution in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
P. K. Jithesh, T. Sundararajan

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Indian Institute of Technology Madras,
Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600036, India

Sarit K. Das

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Indian Institute of Technology Madras,
Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600036, India
e-mail: skdas@iitm.ac.in

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 3, 2014; final manuscript received March 2, 2015; published online May 27, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Abel Hernandez-Guerrero.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(4), 041003 (Aug 01, 2015) (8 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1015; doi: 10.1115/1.4030514 History: Received February 03, 2014; Revised March 02, 2015; Online May 27, 2015

The performance of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell strongly depends on the nature of reactant distribution and the effectiveness of liquid water removal. In this work, three different configurations of a mixed flow distributor are studied analytically and numerically to find out the effect of nonuniform under-rib convection on reactant and liquid water distribution in the cell. In a mixed flow distributor, the rate of under-rib convection is found to be different under each rib in the same flow sector which results in different rates of removal of liquid water. This helps to retain some water to hydrate the membrane, whereas the excess is removed to avoid flooding. It is found that under-rib convection aids to get better reactant distribution, reduces pressure drop, and provides better control over liquid water removal which is helpful in developing efficient water management strategies for PEM fuel cells.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Mixed flow distributor configurations: (a) 2 channel set, (b) 3 channel set, and (c) 4 channel set

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Fig. 2

Resistance network for a flow sector in 3 channel set mixed flow distributor

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Fig. 3

Flow chart for evaluating flow distribution in mixed distributor configurations

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Fig. 4

Comparison of performance predicted by analytical and numerical models with experimental data

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Fig. 5

Comparison of oxygen distribution predicted by analytical and numerical models

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Fig. 6

(a) Oxygen channel flow in 2 channel and 4 channel set configurations, (b) oxygen under-rib convection in 2 channel and 4 channel set configurations, and (c) oxygen channel flow and under-rib convection in 3 channel set configuration

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Fig. 7

Average velocity of flow in the channels. (a) 2 channel set, (b) 3 channel set, and (c) 4 channel set configuration.

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Fig. 8

Comparison of pressure drop in different mixed distributor configurations

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Fig. 9

Distribution of volume fraction of liquid water in the cathode catalyst layer. (a) 2 channel set, (b) 3 channel set, and (c) 4 channel set.

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