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Modeling of Microfluidic Fuel Cells With Flow-Through Porous Electrodes

[+] Author Affiliations
Ali Ebrahimi Khabbazi, Mina Hoorfar

University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC, Canada

Paper No. FuelCell2010-33220, pp. 659-665; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 8th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • ASME 2010 8th International Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology Conference: Volume 1
  • Brooklyn, New York, USA, June 14–16, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4404-5 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3875-4
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


This paper presents a modeling of a microfluidic fuel cell with flow-through porous electrodes using vanadium redox couples as the fuel and oxidant. There are advantages associated with the use of vanadium redox species in microfluidic fuel cell: 1) vanadium redox couples have the possibility of producing high open-circuit potential (up to 1.7 V at uniform PH [1]); 2) they have high solubility (up to 5.4 M) which causes more species available to the electrodes; 3) they do not require metal catalyst for electrochemical reactions so the reactions take place on the bare carbon electrodes. This characteristic of the vanadium redox couple make them a great candidate as reactants as they do not need expensive catalyst coatings on the electrodes. The fuel and the oxidant can be brought into contact with the electrode in two different ways: flowing over the electrodes or flowing through the electrodes. In the presented fuel cell design, the vanadium redox species are forced to flow through the porous electrodes. They finally come to meet each other in the middle microchannel and establish a side-by-side co-laminar flow traveling down the channel. In this paper, the effect of the inlet velocity and electrode porosity has been investigated. As it is expected, the higher velocity results in the higher power densities. For the porosity, however, there is an optimum value. In essence, there is a trade-off between the available electrode surface area and electric conductivity of the solid phase (i.e., the porous carbon electrode). The modeling shows that a porous electrode with a 67% porosity results in the highest power output.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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