Two-phase flow and maldistribution in gas channels of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell

Suman Basu, Jun Li, Chao Yang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Liquid water transport in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) is a major issue for automotive applications. Mist flow with tiny droplets suspended in gas has been commonly assumed for channel flow while two-phase flow has been modeled in other cell components. However, experimental studies have found that two-phase flow in the channels has a profound effect on PEFC performance, stability and durability. Therefore, a complete two-phase flow model is developed in this work for PEFC including two-phase flow in both anode and cathode channels. The model is validated against experimental data of the wetted area ratio and pressure drop in the cathode side. Due to the intrusion of soft gas diffusion layer (GDL) material in the channels, flow resistance is higher in some channels than in others. The resulting flow maldistribution among PEFC channels is of great concern because non-uniform distributions of fuel and oxidizer result in non-uniform reaction rates and thus adversely affect PEFC performance and durability. The two-phase flow maldistribution among the parallel channels in an operating PEFC is explored in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-443
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009

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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