Experimental characterization of the water transport properties of PEM fuel cells diffusion media

Bladimir Ramos-Alvarado, Joshua D. Sole, Abel Hernandez-Guerrero, Michael W. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A full experimental characterization of the liquid water transport properties of Toray TGP-090 paper is carried out in this work. Porosity, capillary pressure curves (capillary pressure-saturation relationships), absolute permeability, and relative permeability are obtained via experimental procedures. Porosity was determined using two methods, both aimed to obtain the solid volume of the network of fibers comprising the carbon paper. Capillary pressure curves were obtained using a gas displacement porosimeter where liquid water is injected using a syringe pump and the capillary pressure is recorded using a differential pressure transducer. Absolute and relative permeability were also measured with an apparatus designed at Virginia Tech. Absolute permeability was calculated at different flow rates using nitrogen. On the other hand, relative permeability was a more complicated task to carry out giving the complexity (two-phase flow condition) of this property. All of the water transport properties of Toray TGP-090 were studied under the effects of wet-proofing (PTFE treatment) and compression. Some observations were that wet-proofing reduces the porosity of the raw material, increases the hydrophobicity (P c-S curves), and reduces the permeability of the material. Similar effects were observed for compression, where compressed material exhibited trends similar to those of wet-proofing effects. The results presented here will allow a more accurate modeling of PEMFCs, providing an experimentally verified alternative to the assumptions frequently employed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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