Management of liquid water formed by the electrochemical reaction has received considerable attention and is considered a key factor in proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) performance and durability. For practical stack applications, an aspect of the water management problem that is often overlooked is the transport of liquid water at the transition between the ends of the bipolar plate channels and the manifolds, where excess reactant flows from all the individual cells are combined and directed to the stack exhaust. In the bipolar plate exit region, gas-phase momentum can be very low, especially on the anode, and thus there is little driving force to remove liquid water. This study seeks to first quantify the characteristics of channel-to-manifold water transport by analysis of in-situ neutron radiography images, and correlation of the volumes of liquid water in the active and non-active regions to the relevant fuel cell operating conditions: temperature, pressure, relative humidity, current density and stoichiometric ratio. This analysis is complimented by new ex-situ experiments that directly control the flow of channel-level water and quantify the attendant increase in two-phase pressure drop in the non-active fuel cell region. The ex-situ apparatus has the additional feature of a simultaneous cross-flow channel at the exit plane of the bipolar plate, which enables simulation of two-phase flow dynamics of a fuel cell positioned anywhere in a stack, from zero cross-flow at the capped end of the stack to maximum cross-flow at the gas connected end of the stack.

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