In this paper, we study the effect of porosity heterogeneity on the bulk hydrodynamic properties (permeability and tortuosity) of simulated gas diffusion layers (GDLs). The porosity distributions of the heterogeneous reconstructed samples are similar to those previously reported in the literature for Toray TGP-H 120™ GDLs. We use the lattice Boltzmann method to perform pore-level flow simulations in the reconstructed GDL samples. Using the results of pore-level simulations, the effect of porosity distribution is characterized on the predicted in- and cross-plane permeability and tortuosity. It was found that porosity heterogeneity causes a higher in-plane permeability and lower in-plane tortuosity, while the effect is opposite in the cross-plane direction, that is a lower cross-plane permeability and a higher cross-plane tortuosity. We further investigate the effect of adding poly-tetra-fluoro-ethylene (PTFE) & binder material to the reconstructed GDL samples. Three fiber volume percentages of 50, 75, and 100% are considered. Overall, increasing the fiber volume percentage reduces the predicted in- and cross-plane permeability and tortuosity values. A previously reported relationship for permeability of fibrous materials is fitted to the predicted permeability values, and the magnitude of the fitting parameter is reported as a function of fiber volume percentage. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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