Pore-scale modeling of two-phase transport in polymer electrolyte fuel cells - Progress and perspective

Partha P. Mukherjee, Qinjun Kang, Chao Yang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Recent years have witnessed an explosion of research and development efforts in the area of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC), perceived as the next generation clean energy source for automotive, portable and stationary applications. Despite significant progress, a pivotal performance/durability limitation in PEFCs centers on two-phase transport and mass transport loss originating from suboptimal liquid water transport and flooding phenomena. Liquid water blocks the porous pathways in the gas diffusion layer (GDL) and the catalyst layer (CL), thus hindering oxygen transport from the flow field to the electrochemically actives sites in the catalyst layer. Different approaches have been examined to model the underlying transport mechanisms in the PEFC with different levels of complexities. Due to the macroscopic nature, these two-phase models fail to resolve the underlying structural influence on the transport and performance. Mesoscopic modeling at the pore-scale offers great promise in elucidating the underlying structure-transport-performance interlinks in the PEFC porous components. In this article, a systematic review of the recent progress and prospects of pore-scale modeling in the context of two-phase transport in the PEFC is presented. Specifically, the efficacy of lattice Boltzmann (LB), pore morphology (PM) and pore network (PN) models coupled with realistic delineation of microstructures in fostering enhanced insight into the underlying liquid water transport in the PEFC GDL and CL is highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-369
Number of pages24
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution


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