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Research Papers

Characterization of Flow Within a Fuel Cell Manifold Subject to Asymmetric Inlet Conditions

[+] Author and Article Information
Lisa Grega

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The College of New Jersey,
2000 Pennington Road,
Ewing, NJ 08628
e-mail: grega@tcnj.edu

Manthan Kothari

Middle Atlantic Products, Inc.,
300 Fairfield Road,
Fairfield, NJ 07004
e-mail: manthankothari14@gmail.com

Andrew Specian

Department of Mechanical Engineering
and Applied Mechanics,
University of Pennsylvania,
220 South 33rd Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19104
e-mail: specian@upenn.edu

Steven Voinier

KBR, Inc.,
242 Chapman Road,
Newark, DE 19702
e-mail: voinier3@tcnj.edu

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received June 8, 2015; final manuscript received November 2, 2015; published online January 20, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Abel Hernandez-Guerrero.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(6), 061008 (Jan 20, 2016) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-15-1036; doi: 10.1115/1.4032161 History: Received June 08, 2015; Revised November 02, 2015

Achievement of flow uniformity among cells of a fuel cell stack continues to be an issue in fuel cell design and can affect performance and longevity. While many studies have sought to examine the effects of manifold and cell geometries on stack pressure drops and current density, few have provided detailed mapping of the manifold flowfield or examined the effect of reactant supply pipe bends on this flow, as these bends can introduce flow asymmetries within the pipe downstream of the bend. A simplified scaled up model of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell was fitted with different inlet flow configurations, including straight piping and piping containing a 90 deg bend and 180 deg bend prior to entering the manifold. Particle image velocimetry (PIV) was used to obtain mean and fluctuating velocity statistics within the manifold and in individual cells. These distributions were compared with previous results using a partially developed square inlet profile, as well as available experimental and computational data in the literature. The presence of pipe bends resulted in highly skewed flow within the manifold, which also affected the flow distribution among individual cells.

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References

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Secondary flow pattern in a curved pipe

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Fig. 2

Geometry of fuel cell model

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Fig. 3

Experimental setup showing inlet pipe geometries and measurement orientations within inlet manifold

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Fig. 4

Velocity vector fields at inlet to manifold: (a) square inlet, (b) straight inlet, and (c) 90 deg bend inlet

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Fig. 5

Boundary layer profiles 5 mm upstream of cell #1

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Fig. 6

Contour plots of mean horizontal velocity in manifold normalized by mean inlet velocity at center of manifold inlet in vertical measurement planes—straight pipe: (a) 38 mm offset from center plane, (b) 25 mm offset from center plane, and (c) center plane

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Fig. 7

Contour plots of mean horizontal velocity in manifold normalized by mean inlet velocity at center of manifold inlet in vertical measurement planes—90 deg bend pipe: (a) 38 mm offset toward outer pipe wall, (b) 25 mm offset toward outer pipe wall, (c) center plane, (d) 25 mm offset toward inner pipe wall, and (e) 38 mm offset toward inner pipe wall

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Fig. 8

Contour plots of mean horizontal velocity in manifold normalized by mean inlet velocity at center of manifold inlet in vertical measurement planes—180 deg bend pipe: (a) 38 mm offset toward outer pipe wall, (b) 25 mm offset toward outer pipe wall, (c) center plane, (d) 25 mm offset toward inner pipe wall, and (e) 38 mm offset toward inner pipe wall

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Fig. 9

Contour plots of mean horizontal velocity in manifold normalized by mean inlet velocity at center of manifold inlet in horizontal measurement planes: (a) straight pipe, (b) 90 deg bend pipe, and (c) 180 deg bend pipe

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Fig. 10

Normalized cell velocity versus cell number: (a) Recell = 210 and (b) Recell = 850

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Fig. 11

Normalized rms velocity in the center of the cells: (a) Recell = 210 and (b) Recell = 850

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