The flow behavior in the separator channel and gas diffusion layer (GDL) of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) has been investigated by using a transient, isothermal and three-dimensional numerical model. Gas channel and gas diffusion layers are considered as the important parts of PEFC as they transport reactant gases to the catalyst layer and also byproduct from the catalyst layer. The deformation of GDL plays an important role on the performance of polymer electrolyte fuel cell since the physical properties such as porosity and permeability of the GDL and the cross sectional area of the gas channel are affected by the structural deformation of GDL. In this present investigation, non-uniform deformations shape of GDL are taken into consideration and chosen as in the experimental data. Numerical simulations are performed for a wide range of porosity and permeability values. Further, the effects of these parameters on the pressure distribution are measured. It is revealed that the increase of porosity and permeability parameter caused the decrease of pressure drop (difference of pressure from inlet and outlet) but the decreasing rate is not uniform. It is also found that there is an effective range of porosity and permeability values for which these parameters have a very strong effect on the pressure drop. The results obtained by numerical simulation are also compared with the experimental as well as theoretical solution.

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