A three-dimensional numerical simulation of the transport phenomena in the cathodic side of a PEMFC

Hwang, J.J.; Chen, C.K.; Savinell, R.F.; Liu, C.C.; Wainright, J.
February 2004
Journal of Applied Electrochemistry;Feb2004, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p217
Academic Journal
A three-dimensional numerical model is developed to simulate the transport phenomena on the cathodic side of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) that is in contact with parallel and interdigitated gas distributors. The computational domain consists of a flow channel together with a gas diffusion layer on the cathode of a PEMFC. The effective diffusivities according to the Bruggman correlation and Darcy's law for porous media are used for the gas diffusion layer. In addition, the Tafel equation is used to describe the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) on the catalyst layer surface. Three-dimensional transport equations for the channel flow and the gas diffusion layer are solved numerically using a finite-volume-based numerical technique. The nature of the multi-dimensional transport in the cathode side of a PEMFC is illustrated by the fluid flow, mass fraction and current density distribution. The interdigitated gas distributor gives a higher average current density on the catalyst layer surface than that with the parallel gas distributor under the same mass flow rate and cathode overpotential. Moreover, the limiting current density increased by 40% by using the interdigitated flow field design instead of the parallel one.


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