Three-dimensional numerical analysis of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) with conventional and interdigitated flow fields

  • Hu G
  • Fan J
  • Chen S
 et al. 
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A three-dimensional, steady-state mathematical model is described to investigate the fluid flow, species transport and electrochemical reaction in the PEM fuel cells with conventional and interdigitated flow fields. The multidimensional characteristics of flow, species and current distributions are computed by method based on volume-control finite-discrete technique. After comparing the absolute value of convective and diffusion component of oxygen flux quantitatively, we found that forced convection transport mechanism is dominant for the interdigitated flow field design, however the diffusion transport is dominant for the conventional flow field design. The performance and the pressure loss of these two different designs are calculated and compared; results show that interdigitated flow field design have better performance for its advantage in mass-transport ability, however have larger pressure loss for its flow through the electrode. Finally, experimental results reported in the literature and predicted polarization curves are compared to evaluate the numerical model employed. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: Proton exchange membrane fuel cell; Conventional flow field; Interdigitated flow field; Numerical modeling 1. Introduction The proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) engines, using polymer membrane as electrolyte, are con- sidered to be promising power sources, especially for transportation applications. This fuel cell has many im- portant attributes such as high efficiency, clean, quiet, low temperature operation, capable of quick start-up, no liq- uid electrolyte and simple cell design. However, before this system becomes competitive with the traditional com- bustion engine, its performance and costs must be further optimized. In order to enhance its performance, a new flow field design called the interdigitated flow field has been developed and proven to be very effective by experiment [1–3], as schematically shown in Fig. 1b. Comparing to flowing over the surface of the electrodes in the conven- tional parallel-channel flow field shown in Fig. 1a, these interdigitated flow fields in effect have converted the trans- port of the reactant/product gases to/from the catalyst layers from a diffusion dominated mechanism to a forced convec- tion dominated mechanism by forcing the reactant gases fax: +86 571 8799 1863. E-mail address: (J. Fan). ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 571 8795 1764; to flow into the electrode in order to exit. The transport

Author-supplied keywords

  • cell
  • conventional flow field
  • interdigitated flow field
  • numerical modeling
  • proton exchange membrane fuel

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  • G Hu

  • Jianren Fan

  • Song Chen

  • Yongjiang Liu

  • Kefa Cen

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