Multi-phase flow and condensation in proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Submitted to
Proceedings of the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
New Orleans, LA
November 17-22, 2002


John M. Stockie

Abstract:    The porous electrodes in a proton exchange membrane fuel cell are characterized by flow of liquid water and multispecies gases that are undergoing condensation and catalyzed reactions. Careful management of liquid water and heat in the fuel cell system is essential for optimizing performance. The primary focus of this study is thus on condensation and water transport, neither of which have yet been studied in as much detail as other aspects of fuel cell dynamics. We develop a two-dimensional model for multi-phase flow in a porous medium that captures the fundamental transport processes going on in the electrodes. The governing equations are discretized using a finite volume approach, and numerical simulations are performed in order to determine the effect of changing operating conditions on fuel cell performance.