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Research Papers

Wavy Surface Cathode Gas Flow Channel Effects on Transport Processes in a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Shian Li, Jinliang Yuan, Martin Andersson

Department of Energy Sciences,
Lund University,
P.O. Box 118,
Lund SE-22100, Sweden

Gongnan Xie

Department of Mechanical
and Power Engineering,
Northwestern Polytechnical University,
Box 24,
Xi'an 710072, China

Bengt Sundén

Department of Energy Sciences,
Lund University,
P.O. Box 118,
Lund SE-22100, Sweden
e-mail: bengt.sunden@energy.lth.se

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received December 10, 2016; final manuscript received April 20, 2017; published online June 21, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Matthew Mench.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 14(3), 031007 (Jun 21, 2017) (10 pages) Paper No: JEECS-16-1160; doi: 10.1115/1.4036810 History: Received December 10, 2016; Revised April 20, 2017

The flow field design of current collectors is a significant issue, which greatly affects the mass transport processes of reactants/products inside fuel cells. Especially for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, an appropriate flow field design is very important due to the water balance problem. In this paper, a wavy surface is employed at the cathode flow channel to improve the oxygen mass transport process. The effects of wavy surface on transport processes are numerically investigated by using a three-dimensional anisotropic model including a water phase change model and a spherical agglomerate model. It is found that the wavy configurations enhance the oxygen transport and decrease the water saturation level. It is concluded that the predicted results and findings provide the guideline for the design and manufacture of fuel cells.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of a PEM fuel cell: (a) three-dimensional configuration, (b) wavy surface in the cathode channel, and (c) representative lines

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Fig. 2

Comparison of the numerical results with experimental data in terms of polarization curves

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Fig. 3

Effect of wavy surface channel on cell performance

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Fig. 4

Effect of wavy surface channel on temperature distribution in the middle plane of the fuel cell at 0.6 V (X1 plane): (a) straight channel and (b) wavy channel

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Fig. 5

Effect of wavy surface channel on temperature distribution in the middle plane of the fuel cell at 0.3 V (X1 plane): (a) straight channel and (b) wavy channel

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Fig. 6

Effect of wavy surface channel on oxygen mass fraction at the gas diffusion layer and catalyst layer interface: (a) 0.6 V and (b) 0.3 V

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Fig. 7

Effect of wavy surface channel on liquid water saturation at the gas diffusion layer and catalyst layer interface: (a) 0.6 V and (b) 0.3 V

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Fig. 8

Effect of wavy surface channel on the current density along the width direction (middle line) in the middle plane of the membrane (Z1 plane): (a) 0.6 V and (b) 0.3 V

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Fig. 9

Effect of wavy surface channel on the current density along the flow direction (line 1) in the middle plane of the membrane (Z1 plane): (a) 0.6 V and (b) 0.3 V

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