Thermal-Fluid-Dynamic Simulation of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Using a Hierarchical 3D-1D Approach

[+] Author and Article Information
Stefano Cordiner, Fabio Romanelli

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata,” via del Politecnico 1, 00133, Rome, Italy

Vincenzo Mulone1

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata,” via del Politecnico 1, 00133, Rome, Italymulone@ing.uniroma2.it


Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 4(3), 317-327 (Aug 31, 2006) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2744052 History: Received January 27, 2006; Revised August 31, 2006

The use of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEFC) based power trains and stationary systems has been technically demonstrated but is still far from commercial application. Technical development is still required to reach cost and durability targets, and to this aim, modeling and simulation are useful tools to obtain both better understanding of the fundamental occurring processes and to shorten design-associated costs and time. In this paper, a hierarchical 3D-1D approach is proposed, to overcome the deficiencies of a full 1D approach and the characteristic computational costs of a full 3D approach. The polymeric membrane and catalyst layers are represented by a local 1D model, while channels, gas diffusion layers, and solid electrodes are modeled by a full 3D approach. The model capabilities are first investigated with respect to experimental data by means of a full fuel cell simulation; the main chemical, fluid dynamic, and thermal fields are then analyzed in a straight channel configuration. The proposed 3D/1D model is able to accurately represent PEFC specific phenomena and their physical coupling. It could be then successfully applied to both design and development.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

(a) Schematic of a detail of a typical PEM fuel cell full 3D computational domain and (b) 3D/1D schematic coupling

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Figure 2

Electrochemical module test: polarization curves

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Figure 3

(a) Flow diagram of the solution procedure, and (b) schematic of solution procedure

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Figure 4

Tested geometries: (a) bipolar plate and (b) coflow straight channel

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Figure 5

(a) Fuel cell stack, (b) bipolar plate, and (c) computational grid on the membrane surface

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Figure 6

Experimental and numerical results: polarization curve

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Figure 7

(a) Current field on the membrane, (b)O2 mass fraction field on the membrane, (c)H2 mass fraction field on the membrane, and (d) channel and diffusion layer O2 (left) and H2 (right) mass fraction fields on a transversal section

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Figure 8

(a) Humidity on the cathode side [in percent], (b)H2 mass fraction, (c) gas phase H2O mass fraction, (d) current density on the membrane [A∕cm2], (e) current density on the membrane: detail [A∕cm2], (f) gas-to-liquid transfer rate: detail [kg∕m2s], and (g) saturation region on the membrane: cathode side, detail [1=humidity>100%, 0=humidity≤100%]



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