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DOI: 10.1615/ICHMT.2008.CHT.1280
page 14

Steven B. Beale
Institute of Energy and Climate Research, IEK-3 Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH 52425 Jülich, Germany

D. H. Schwarz
National Research Council, Montreal Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R6 Canada

M. R. Malin
Concentration Heat and Momentum Ltd, Bakery House, 40 High Street, Wimbledon Village London, SW19 5AU Great Britain

Dudley Brian Spalding
Concentration, Heat, and Momentum (CHAM), Limited, Bakery House, 40 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London SW19 5AU, England


The membrane of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell must be hydrated with liquid water at all times, in order to function effectively. At high current densities, liquid water in the pores of the diffusion layer inhibits oxygen transport to the cathode. The present paper shows the results of an analysis of two-phase flow and mass transfer in the diffusion layer of a fuel cell. The computational fluid dynamics code PHOENICS is adapted to perform calculations assuming Darcy's law applies, with the rate of oxygen diffusion governed by Fick's law. Both relative permeability and capillary pressure are strongly dependent on saturation. A modified version of the interphase slip algorithm is used to perform flow-field calculations. The two phases are each assigned a different pressure. Phase continuity is solved-for liquid-phase saturation, from whence capillary pressure, relative permeability and oxygen exchange coefficients are obtained. Results of numerical calculations are compared to an analytical solution with excellent agreement. Detailed calculations for a typical present-day fuel cell are presented. The results are correlated in terms of gas mass transfer driving force as a function of blowing parameter.

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