A key performance limitation in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC), manifested in terms of mass transport loss, originates from liquid water transport and resulting flooding phenomena in the constituent components. Liquid water covers the electrochemically active sites in the catalyst layer (CL) rendering reduced catalytic activity and blocks the available pore space in the porous CL and fibrous gas diffusion layer (GDL) resulting in hindered oxygen transport to the active reaction sites. The cathode CL and the GDL play a major role in the mass transport loss and hence in the water management of a PEFC. In this work the development of a mesoscopic modeling formalism coupled with realistic microstructural delineation is presented to study the influence of the pore structure and surface wettability on liquid water transport and interfacial dynamics in the PEFC catalyst layer and gas diffusion layer. The two-phase regime transition phenomenon in the capillary dominated transport in the CL and the influence of the mixed wetting characteristics on the flooding dynamics in the GDL are highlighted.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemical Engineering