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The Electrode-Electrolyte Interface in Acidic and Alkaline Fuel Cells

[+] Author Affiliations
Isaac B. Sprague, Prashanta Dutta

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Paper No. IMECE2011-63833, pp. 547-552; 6 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 4: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; Combustion Science and Engineering; Nanoengineering for Energy, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5490-7
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


This numerical study presents the role of diffuse region of the electric double layer in both acidic and alkaline fuel cells. The numerical model is based on the Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) and generalized-Frumkin-Butler-Volmer (gFBV) equations. The Laminar Flow Fuel Cell (LFFC) is used as the model fuel cell architecture to allow for the appropriate and equivalent comparison of acidic and alkaline cells. In particular, we focus on how each device behaves to changing reactant supply at the electrodes, including the overall cell performance and individual electrode polarizations. It is found that the working ion concentration at the reaction plane contributes to differing performance behaviors in acidic and alkaline fuel cells, including activation losses and reactant transport overpotentials. This is due to the working ion, and the electrode where it’s consumed, being opposite for acidic and alkaline fuel cells.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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