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research-article

An ensemble Monte Carlo simulation study of water distribution in porous gas diffusion layers for proton exchange membrane fuel cells

[+] Author and Article Information
Luigino Capone

Institute of Computational Physics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
juergen.schumacher@zhaw.ch

Philip Marmet

Institute of Computational Physics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
philip.marmet@gmx.ch

Lorenz Holzer

Institute of Computational Physics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
holz@zhaw.ch

Jaka Dujc

Institute of Computational Physics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
dujc@zhaw.ch

Schumacher Juergen

Institute of Computational Physics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
schm@zhaw.ch

Adrien Lamibrac

Electrochemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
adrien.lamibrac@psi.ch

Dr. Felix Büchi

Electrochemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
felix.buechi@psi.ch

Jürgen Becker

Math2Market GmbH, 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany
juergen.becker@math2market.de

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038627 History: Received July 28, 2016; Revised September 05, 2017

Abstract

Water management in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEFCs) has a large impact on the performance of the device, as liquid water affects the transport properties of the gas diffusion layer (GDL). In this study we develop an ensemble-based model of the liquid water distribution inside the GDL. Based on a water injection experiment, the wet structure of the porous medium is inspected via X-ray tomographic microscopy and, after an image segmentation process, a voxel-based meshing of the fiber, air and water domains is obtained. Starting from the obtained dry fiber structure, a Metropolis-Hastings Monte Carlo algorithm is used to obtain the equilibrium distribution of liquid water that minimizes the surface free energy of the ensemble. The different water distributions from the MC simulation and water injection experiment are identified as solution for different physical mechanisms which are both present in a running fuel cell. The wet structure is then used to calculate saturation-dependent effective transport properties, using the software GeoDict. Thereby, a strong influence of the saturation gradient on the macrohomogeneous transport properties is found.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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