Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are considered one of the most promising alternatives for the automotive industry owing to their high energy efficiency, zero emission at the vehicle use stage, and low temperature operation. Water as a byproduct plays a complex role in fuel cell operation. In particular, the inevitable occurrence of liquid water leads to gas-liquid two-phase flows in various components of PEMFCs including flow channels of which diameters range from micrometers to millimeters. In conventional minichannels and microchannels, the Lockhart-Martinelli (LM) approach has been employed to predict the two-phase pressure drop of gas-liquid systems. This approach has previously been updated by our group to more accurately reflect the introduction of liquid water into the flow channels of a PEMFC i.e. from a porous media perpendicular to the gas flow. Importantly, the LM method normalizes the data independent of the flow field design and operating conditions like temperature, pressure, and relative humidity. This paper analyzes the increasing amount of experimental data on two-phase flow pressure drops/two-phase flow multipliers in the literature with these approaches. The focus is the cathode side (therefore an air/water system), and data is collected from multiple research groups using active fuel cells (electrochemically produced water). The traditional LM approach greatly under-predicts the two-phase pressure drop at low current densities. However, the analysis is applied over a range of current densities, and it better predicts results at higher current densities (>600 mA cm−2). Literature correlations for the Chisholm parameter C, a flow regime dependent parameter in the LM equation, have been proposed for non-active (external water injection) fuel cells but do not match the results from operating fuel cells. C is shown here to vary with current density, flow stoichiometry (gas velocity), gas diffusion layer, and slightly with relative humidity.
- Fluids Engineering Division
An Analysis of Two-Phase Flow Pressure Drop in Operating Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Channels With the Lockhart-Martinelli Approach
Anderson, R, Zhang, L, & Wilkinson, DP. "An Analysis of Two-Phase Flow Pressure Drop in Operating Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Channels With the Lockhart-Martinelli Approach." Proceedings of the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels, and Minichannels collocated with the ASME 2014 4th Joint US-European Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting. ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Nanochannels, Microchannels and Minichannels. Chicago, Illinois, USA. August 3–7, 2014. V001T07A001. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICNMM2014-21288
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