An investigation of water transport across the membrane of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell is performed to gain further insight into water management issues and the overall behavior of a representative phenomenological model. The model accounts for water transport via electro-osmotic drag and diffusion and is solved using a finite volume method for a one-dimensional isothermal system. Transport properties including the water drag and diffusion coefficients and membrane ionic conductivity are expressed as functions of water content and temperature. An analytical solution based on a generalized form of the transport properties is also derived and used to validate the numerical solutions. The effects of property variations on the water flux across the membrane and on the overall membrane protonic conductivity are analyzed. The balance between transport via electro-osmotic drag and diffusion depends not only on operating conditions, such as current density and relative humidity at the membrane boundaries, but also on design parameters, such as membrane thickness and membrane material. Computed water fluxes for different humidity boundary conditions indicate that for a thick membrane (e.g., Nafion 117), electro-osmotic drag dominates the transport over a wide range of operating conditions, whereas for a thin membrane (e.g., Nafion 112), diffusion of water becomes equally important under certain humidification conditions and current densities. Implications for the resolution of membrane transport in CFD-based models of proton exchange membrane fuel cells are also discussed.
Analysis of Water Transport in Proton Exchange Membranes Using a Phenomenological Model
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Sui, P. C., and Djilali, N. (January 28, 2005). "Analysis of Water Transport in Proton Exchange Membranes Using a Phenomenological Model." ASME. J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol. August 2005; 2(3): 149–155. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.1895945
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