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Research Papers

Thermal Contact Resistance Measurements of Compressed PEFC Gas Diffusion Media

[+] Author and Article Information
Adam S. Hollinger

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Penn State Behrend,
Erie, PA 16563
e-mail: ash167@psu.edu

Stefan T. Thynell

Fellow ASME
Department of Mechanical and
Nuclear Engineering,
The Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA 16802
e-mail: Thynell@psu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received June 16, 2016; final manuscript received January 17, 2017; published online February 14, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Matthew Mench.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 13(4), 041004 (Feb 14, 2017) (5 pages) Paper No: JEECS-16-1082; doi: 10.1115/1.4035803 History: Received June 16, 2016; Revised January 17, 2017

Localized temperature gradients in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) are known to decrease the durability of the polymer membrane. The most important factor in controlling these temperature gradients is the thermal contact resistance at the interface of the gas diffusion layer (GDL) and the bipolar plate. Here, we present thermal contact resistance measurements of carbon paper and carbon cloth GDLs over a pressure range of 0.7–14.5 MPa. Contact resistances are highly dependent upon the clamping pressure applied to a fuel cell, and in the present work, contact resistances vary from 3.5 × 10−4 to 2.0 × 10−5 m2 K/W, decreasing nonlinearly over the pressure range for each material tested. The contact resistances of carbon cloth GDLs are two to four times higher than contact resistances of carbon paper GDLs throughout the range of pressures tested. The data presented here also show that the thermal resistance of the sample is negligible in comparison to the thermal contact resistance. Controlling temperature gradients in a fuel cell is desirable, and the measurements presented here can be used to more accurately predict temperature distribution in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of thermal conductivity cell: A—brass cooling chamber, B—upper brass column, C—ConFlat full nipple, D—lower brass column, E—O-ring cover, F—pneumatic actuator, G—brass connection column, H—sample space, I—ConFlat flange, J—cartridge heater, K—stainless steel shaft, L—actuator–shaft connection, and M—spacer

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Fig. 2

Image of (a) thermal conductivity cell, (b) top surface of lower brass fluxmeter, and (c) four thermistors evenly spaced along lower brass fluxmeter

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Fig. 3

Temperature versus position from heater as a function of applied pressure (AvCarb P50T sample)

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Fig. 4

Contact resistance of gas diffusion layers versus applied pressure

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Fig. 5

Heat flux through gas diffusion layers versus applied pressure

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Fig. 6

Temperature drop across gas diffusion layers versus applied pressure

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