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Heat Transfer Research
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Heat Transfer Research

DOI: 10.1615/HeatTransRes.2012004486
pages 139-150

WATER VAPOR TRANSPORT WITH CONDENSATION IN A GAS DIFFUSION LAYER OF A PROTON EXCHANGE MEMBRANE FUEL CELL

Zetao Tan
Institute of Thermal Energy Engineering, School of Mechanical, Electronic and Control Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
Li Jia
Institute of Thermal Engineering, School of Mechanical, Electronic and Control Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Flow and Heat Transfer of Phase Changing in Micro and Small Scale, Beijing 100044, China
Zhuqian Zhang
Institute of Thermal Energy Engineering, School of Mechanical, Electronic and Control Engineering, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China

ABSTRACT

Water management plays a crucial role in a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. Experimental investigation of water transport in a gas diffusion layer (GDL) promotes the understanding to transport mechanism in it. Also it is helpful to model constructing. In this study, an ex situ setup is built to investigate water vapor transport process with heat transfer. Gas permeability and vapor condensation amount are measured. It is observed that water vapor condenses and breakthrough the sample when water vapor flows through GDL with temperature gradients between the two sides. The breakthrough phenomenon is different from that of liquid water. According to water vapor condensing mass measurement, the roles of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) loading of GDL and micro-porous layer (MPL) are analyzed based on the experiments on various samples. The results show that the presence of PTFE causes the condensing amount of vapor decreasing. In addition, adding MPL to one side of gas diffusion substrate (GDS) facilitates water transport in the vapor phase. MPL is beneficial to water removal from GDL.