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A Numerical Analysis of Growing Water Droplet inside an Air Supply Channel of a PEM Fuel Cell

[+] Author Affiliations
A. Mukherjee, S. G. Kandlikar

Rochester Institute of Technology

Paper No. IMECE2006-14807, pp. 131-136; 6 pages
doi:10.1115/IMECE2006-14807
From:
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Fluids Engineering
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4770-5 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME

abstract

The present study is performed to analyze the growth and departure of a water droplet inside a minichannel with air flowing through it. The minichannel is of 1 mm square cross section with a water droplet growing at the top wall and air coming in through the channel inlet. This is a typical situation encountered in the gas flow passages of a PEM fuel cell. The excess water generated in the membrane due to the fuel cell reaction diffuses through the gas diffusion media and enters the gas supply minichannel passages where it gets entrained in the flow. The excess water needs to be removed quickly to prevent flooding of the membrane and gas flow passages which stops the fuel cell operation. The complete Navier-Stokes equations along with continuity equation are solved using the SIMPLER method. The liquid vapor interface is captured using the level set technique. The droplet grows due to flow of water at its base and at the same time is dragged due to the air flowing over it. The droplet growth and its departure are studied for different values water flow rate, incoming air flow rate and contact angle. The droplet departure is found to be hindered by excessive water flow rate and increase in surface wettability.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME

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