For anode-supported planar solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), the thick anode support layer (ASL) prevents the supply of fuel gas to the anode functional layer (AFL) where the electrochemical reactions take place. Shortage of the fuel gas at the active region results in concentration polarization. SOFC designs with porosity gradient anode may improve the cell performance. In order to investigate the effect of the porosity distributions on mass transfer characteristics of SOFC, a three dimensional half-cell model is developed based on the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method. The numerical model solves continuity equation, conservation of momentum, multi-component mass transfer and electrochemical reaction. According to the numerical results, a SOFC design with a higher porosity gradient anode could effectively enhance mass transport of the fuel gas in the AFLs, which would lead to the reduction of polarization loss. It is also found that high porosity gradient among the anode layers could improve the H2 concentration gradient in the porous anode, which is beneficial to facilitate diffusion of the fuel gas in the porous anode. Concentration overpotentials of the SOFC decrease with the increase of the porosity gradient, especially for the low inlet H2 molar fraction. These findings indicate that the comprehensive performance of SOFC can be effectively improved by employing a high porosity gradient anode.

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