Water transport in the Porous Transport Layer (PTL) plays an important role in the efficient operation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). Excessive water content as well as dry operating conditions are unfavorable for efficient and reliable operation of the fuel cell. The effect of thermal conductivity and porosity on water management are investigated by simulating two-phase flow in the PTL of the fuel cell using a network model. In the model, the PTL consists of a pore-phase and a solid-phase. Different models of the PTLs are generated using independent Weibull distributions for the pore-phase and the solid-phase. The specific arrangement of the pores and solid elements is varied to obtain different PTL realizations for the same Weibull parameters. The properties of PTL are varied by changing the porosity and thermal conductivity. The parameters affecting operating conditions include the temperature, relative humidity in the flow channel and voltage and current density. A parametric study of different solid-phase distributions of the PTL and its effect on thermal, vapor and liquid transport in the PTL under different operating conditions are discussed.

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