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Numerical Simulation of Droplet Emergence and Growth From Gas Diffusion Layers (GDLs) in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell Flow Channels

[+] Author Affiliations
Jingru Benner, Mehdi Mortazavi, Anthony D. Santamaria

Western New England University, Springfield, MA

Paper No. IMECE2018-86579, pp. V06AT08A065; 7 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6A: Energy
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5207-1
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


Liquid water management is critical for Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell operation, as excessive humidity can lead to flooding and cell performance degradation. Water is produced in the cathode catalyst layer during the electrochemical reaction. If reactant gas streams become saturated, liquid water forms and must travel through anode and cathode Gas Diffusion Layers (GDLs) to reach flow channels for removal. Understanding the dynamic behavior of the droplet is critical to improve water removal strategies for PEM fuel cells. In this study a 3D, transient, two-phase model based on the Volume of Fluid (VOF) method was developed to study a single droplet in the gas channel. The formation, growth, and breakup of the droplet is tracked numerically and analyzed. The pressure drop across the droplet is monitored over time and compared with theoretical analysis. The droplet size and shape change over time for two different pore sizes are compared. The impact of various gases including air, helium, and hydrogen on droplet dynamics is presented. The viscous force and pressure force on the droplet and the drag coefficient are calculated.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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