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Research Papers

A Three-Dimensional Agglomerate Model of an Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Bruno S. Machado

School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering,
Newcastle University,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
e-mail: b.de-souza-machado1@newcastle.ac.uk

Nilanjan Chakraborty

School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering,
Newcastle University,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
e-mail: nilanjan.chakraborty@newcastle.ac.uk

Mohamed Mamlouk

School of Chemical Engineering and
Advanced Materials,
Newcastle University,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
e-mail: mohamed.mamlouk@newcastle.ac.uk

Prodip K. Das

School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering,
Newcastle University,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
e-mail: prodip.das@newcastle.ac.uk

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received May 8, 2017; final manuscript received September 1, 2017; published online October 17, 2017. Assoc. Editor: George Nelson.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 15(1), 011004 (Oct 17, 2017) (12 pages) Paper No: JEECS-17-1043; doi: 10.1115/1.4037942 History: Received May 08, 2017; Revised September 01, 2017

In this study, a three-dimensional (3D) agglomerate model of an anion exchange membrane (AEM) fuel cell is proposed in order to analyze the influence of the composition of the catalyst layers (CLs) on overall fuel cell performance. Here, a detailed comparison between the agglomerate and a macrohomogeneous model is provided, elucidating the effects of the CL composition on the overall performance and the individual losses, the effects of operating temperature and inlet relative humidity on the cell performance, and the CL utilization by the effectiveness factor. The results show that the macrohomogeneous model overestimates the cell performance compared to the agglomerate model due to the resistances associated with the species and ionic transports in the CLs. Consequently, the hydration is negatively affected, resulting in a higher Ohmic resistance. The activation overpotential is overpredicted by the macrohomogeneous model, as the agglomerate model relates the transportation resistances within the domain with the CL composition. Despite the higher utilization in the anode CL, the cathode CL utilization shows a significant drop near the membrane–CL interface due to a high current density and a low oxygen concentration. Additionally, the influences of operating temperature and relative humidity at the flow channel inlet have been analyzed. Similar to the macrohomogeneous model, the overall cell performance of the agglomerate model is enhanced with increasing operating temperature due to the better electrochemical kinetics. However, as the relative humidity at the inlet is reduced, the overall performance of the cell deteriorates due to the poor hydration of the membrane.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic representation of PEM and AEM fuel cell. The product of both types of fuel cell is water, heat generation, and electrical energy.

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Fig. 2

(a) Three-dimensional representation of the computational domain and (b) two-dimensional schematic representation of the computational domain and mesh

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Fig. 3

CL composition scheme. The porous and Pt dispersed C are covered by an ionomer layer. As the species cross the ionomer layer covering the agglomerate, the reaction process takes place.

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Fig. 4

Polarization curve for both agglomerate and macrohomogeneous [10] CL numerical models along with experimental data [2830]

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Fig. 5

Total overpotential for both agglomerate and macrohomogeneous models

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Fig. 6

Concentration loss in the cathode CL: (a) macrohomogeneous model and (b) agglomerate model

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Fig. 7

Activation loss in the cathode CL: (a) macrohomogeneous model and (b) agglomerate model

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Fig. 8

Effectiveness factor: (a) anode CL and (b) cathode CL

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Fig. 9

Effect of temperature on the overall fuel cell performance. Solid lines are for a macrohomogeneous model and dashed lines are for an agglomerate model.

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Fig. 10

Effect of relative humidity on the overall fuel cell performance. Solid lines are for a macrohomogeneous model, and dashed lines are for an agglomerate model.

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