Research Papers

Design Approach for the Development of the Flow Field of Bipolar Plates for a PEMFC Stack Prototype

[+] Author and Article Information
Paolo Sala

Dipartimento di Chimica,
Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica “Giulio Natta,”
Politecnico di Milano,
Piazza L. da Vinci 32,
Milano 20133, Italy
e-mail: paolo1.sala@polimi.it

Paola Gallo Stampino

Dipartimento di Chimica,
Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica “Giulio Natta,”
Politecnico di Milano,
Piazza L. da Vinci 32,
Milano 20133, Italy
e-mail: paola.gallo@polimi.it

Giovanni Dotelli

Dipartimento di Chimica,
Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica “Giulio Natta,”
Politecnico di Milano,
Piazza L. da Vinci 32,
Milano 20133, Italy
e-mail: giovanni.dotelli@polimi.it

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received December 5, 2012; final manuscript received April 15, 2014; published online September 30, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Abel Hernandez-Guerrero.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 11(6), 061003 (Sep 30, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-12-1122; doi: 10.1115/1.4028150 History: Received December 05, 2012; Revised April 15, 2014

This work is part of a project whose final aim is the realization of an auxiliary power fuel cell generator. It was necessary to design and develop bipolar plates that would be suitable for this application. Bipolar plates have a relevant influence on the final performances of the entire device. A gas leakage or a bad management of the water produced during the reaction could be determinant during operations and would cause the failure of the stack. The development of the bipolar plates was performed in different steps. First, the necessity to make an esteem of the dynamics that happen inside the feeding channels led to perform analytical calculations. The values found were cross-checked performing a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation; finally, it was defined the best pattern for the feeding channels, so that to enhance mass transport and achieve the best velocity profile. The bipolar plates designed were machined and assembled in a laboratory scale two cells prototype stack. Influences of the temperature and of the humidity were evaluated performing experiments at 60 deg and 70 deg and between 60% and 100% of humidity of the reactant gasses. The best operating point achieved in one of these conditions was improved by modifying the flow rates of the reactant, in order to obtain the highest output power, and it evaluated the reliability of the plates in experiments performed for longer times, at fixed voltages.

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Fig. 1

Representation of the cross section of the plates: wideness wc, height dc, distance between two adjacent channels wl, and cross section area of the channels Ach

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Fig. 2

Representation of the geometry of the single (a), double (b), and quadruple (c) serpentine with square bends configurations modeled

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Fig. 3

Geometry of the quadruple serpentine patterns modeled with different round (a) and square-smoothed (b) bends

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Fig. 4

Velocity profiles for the squared (a) and rounded (b) bends configuration

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Fig. 5

Velocity profile for the square-smoothed bends configuration

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Fig. 6

Comparison of polarization curves obtained at 60 °C (a) and 70 °C (b) with different humidities

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Fig. 7

Comparison of polarization curves obtained at 60 °C and 70 °C with 80% and 60% of humidities at the anode and at the cathode, respectively

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Fig. 8

Polarization curves performed at the fixed value of 2 for the air stoichiometry ratio and a variable hydrogen stoichiometry ratio at 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4

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Fig. 9

Polarization curves at the stoichiometry ratios of 1.2 at the anode and 1.2, 2.0, and 2.5 at the cathode

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Fig. 10

Experimental data of the current versus time resulted from the reliability tests at different conditions (a)–(d)



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