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Research Papers

Experimental and Computational Evaluation of Performance and Water Management Characteristics of a Bio-Inspired Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Bhaskar P. Saripella

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
Missouri University of Science and Technology,
Rolla, MO 65409
e-mail: vsxzc@mst.edu

Umit O. Koylu

Mem. ASME
Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
Missouri University of Science and Technology,
Rolla, MO 65409
e-mail: koyluu@mst.edu

Ming C. Leu

Fellow ASME
Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
Missouri University of Science and Technology,
Rolla, MO 65409
e-mail: mleu@mst.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received January 19, 2015; final manuscript received November 12, 2015; published online December 15, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Umberto Desideri.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(6), 061007 (Dec 15, 2015) (9 pages) Paper No: FC-15-1002; doi: 10.1115/1.4032041 History: Received January 19, 2015; Revised November 12, 2015

A bio-inspired proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a flow field that mimics a leaf pattern is experimentally and computationally evaluated. Experiments are conducted using a transparent assembly for direct visualization of liquid water within the microchannels. Polarization and power curves are also obtained while advanced simulations are performed to predict distributions of pressure, velocity, and concentrations. The same measurements and computations are also performed for a single serpentine fuel cell. The results establish the superior water management and performance characteristics of the bio-inspired fuel cell in comparison to a conventional one. They also help elucidate the underlying transport mechanisms, validate the computational models, and guide the optimization of bio-inspired fuel cells.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Flow field patterns for: (a) bio-inspired design and (b) single serpentine design

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Fig. 2

Schematic of the fuel cell test rig

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Fig. 3

Measured polarization and power curves for the bio-inspired and single serpentine PEM fuel cells

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Fig. 4

Comparisons of experimental and computational polarization curves for the bio-inspired and single serpentine PEM fuel cells

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Fig. 5

Pressure and velocity distributions within the cathode GDL at 0.35 V for: (a) and (c) bio-inspired fuel cell and (b) and (d) single serpentine fuel cell

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Fig. 6

Hydrogen and oxygen distributions within the anode and cathode GDLs at 0.35 V for: (a) and (c) bio-inspired fuel cell and (b) and (d) single serpentine fuel cell

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Fig. 7

Water distribution at the cathode channel and GDL at 0.35 V for: (a) and (c) bio-inspired fuel cell and (b) and (d) single serpentine fuel cell

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Fig. 8

Typical two-phase flow patterns for: (a) mist, (b) bubbly, (c) film, (d) stable slug, (e) unstable slug, and (f) plug

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Fig. 9

Direct visualization of liquid water distributions within the bio-inspired and single serpentine fuel cell channels at three different operating voltages

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