A bio-inspired proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a flow field that mimics a leaf pattern is experimentally and computationally evaluated. Experiments are conducted using a transparent assembly for direct visualization of liquid water within the microchannels. Polarization and power curves are also obtained while advanced simulations are performed to predict distributions of pressure, velocity, and concentrations. The same measurements and computations are also performed for a single serpentine fuel cell. The results establish the superior water management and performance characteristics of the bio-inspired fuel cell in comparison to a conventional one. They also help elucidate the underlying transport mechanisms, validate the computational models, and guide the optimization of bio-inspired fuel cells.

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