Research Papers

An Electrochemical Performance Characterization Method for Comparing PEFCs of Varying Channel Dimensions

[+] Author and Article Information
Nathanial J. Cooper

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
University of California, Davis,
Davis, CA 95616
e-mail: natcooper@ucdavis.edu

Travis L. Smith, Jae Wan Park

Department of Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering,
University of California, Davis,
Davis, CA 95616

Anthony D. Santamaria

Mechanical Engineering,
Western New England University,
Springfield, MA 01119

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received November 7, 2017; final manuscript received March 26, 2018; published online April 20, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Bengt Sunden.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 15(4), 041006 (Apr 20, 2018) (8 pages) Paper No: JEECS-17-1128; doi: 10.1115/1.4039789 History: Received November 07, 2017; Revised March 26, 2018

A method which allows for the comparison of polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) bipolar plates (BPs) with various channel dimensions is outlined here. It is applied to data from an experiment with different channel and land width and channel depth combinations for interdigitated and parallel designs. Channel and land width and channel depth varied from 0.25 mm to 1 mm on six different BP designs, and two stoichiometries were tested. Each condition was performed three times for repeatability. The method calculates the performance of each condition after accounting for reversible voltage and overpotential changes due to varying pressure and after eliminating ohmic resistance as a variable. In these data, the interdigitated flow field outperformed the parallel flow field. Designs are compared using the BP permeability as a benchmark metric. The method then calculates the area-specific ohmic resistance (ASR) of the cell. It was difficult to draw hard conclusions about changes in the ASR between flow field designs, but there may be more consistent liquid water removal from the gas diffusion layer (GDL) with smaller channel dimensions. It was found that concentration losses seem to be primarily a result of channel width, rather than channel depth.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) The setup including manifolds that hold the plates. (b) An image of all BPs used in the study. From left to right: 1 × 1, 1 × 0.5, 1 × 0.25, 0.5 × 0.5, 0.5 × 0.25, and 0.25 × 0.25 mm, with a close-up of the 0.25 × 0.25 mm plate.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Peak raw cell power for all conditions plotted against the negative log of the BP permeability

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

(a) Peak cell power for pressure corrected voltage response and (b) loss in peak cell power production from raw cell power to pressure-corrected cell power, for each BP and flow field condition

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

The area-specific resistance of each BP for each set of conditions

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Pressure and resistance corrected polarization curves for (a) interdigitated, high stoichiometry, (b) parallel, high stoichiometry, (c) interdigitated, low stoichiometry, and (d) parallel, low stoichiometry



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