Water management is a critical issue in the development of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells with robust operation. Liquid water can accumulate and flood the gas delivery microchannels and the porous electrodes within PEM fuel cells and deteriorate performance. Since the liquid distribution fluctuates in time for two-phase flow, the rate of oxygen transport to the cathode catalyst layer also fluctuates, resulting in unstable power density and efficiency. In previous research into measuring the voltage loss and voltage fluctuation due to two-phase flow instabilities in the cathode channels of PEM fuel cells, we investigated the effect of the number of parallel channels covering the active area by studying flow fields with varying numbers of parallel channels (4 to 25) while keeping the active area constant at 5 cm2. The resulting voltage loss and fluctuation measurements were expressed as functions of two non-dimensional parameters: channel plurality and the air flow stoichiometric ratio. Channel plurality is a flow field design parameter that defines the number of channels per unit of active area, which is non-dimensionalized by the cross-sectional area of the channels. In this paper, we expand upon our prior studies by studying cathode flow field designs of varying active area, from 5 cm2 to 25 cm2, with a constant number of 25 channels. By increasing the active area with a constant number of channels, we are reducing the channel plurality value. The new results are mapped back to the non-dimensional parameters to extract empirical scaling rules for voltage loss and fluctuation. Furthermore, we compare this data to our prior work with constant active area and identify the significance of the fuel cell size in the scaling relationships. Finally, a refined scaling is presented for generalizing the results for fuel cells having different active area and number of channels.
- Advanced Energy Systems Division
The Role of Channel Plurality in Two-Phase Flow Instabilities in PEM Cathode Channels
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Siefert, N, O’Shea, C, & Litster, S. "The Role of Channel Plurality in Two-Phase Flow Instabilities in PEM Cathode Channels." Proceedings of the ASME 2011 9th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology collocated with ASME 2011 5th International Conference on Energy Sustainability. ASME 2011 9th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology. Washington, DC, USA. August 7–10, 2011. pp. 137-143. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/FuelCell2011-54408
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