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Title: Transport Studies and Modeling in PEM Fuel Cells

This project’s aim was to develop fuel cell components (i.e. membranes, gas-diffusion media (GDM), bipolar plates and flow fields) that possess specific properties (i.e. water transport and conductivity). A computational fluid dynamics model was developed to elucidate the effect of certain parameters on these specific properties. Ultimately, the model will be used to determine sensitivity of fuel cell performance to component properties to determine limiting components and to guide research. We have successfully reached our objectives and achieved most of the milestones of this project. We have designed and synthesized a variety of hydrocarbon block polymer membranes with lower equivalent weight, structure, chemistry, phase separation and process conditions. These membranes provide a broad selection with optimized water transport properties. We have also designed and constructed a variety of devices that are capable of accurately measuring the water transport properties (water uptake, water diffusivity and electro-osmatic drag) of these membranes. These transport properties are correlated to the membranes’ structures derived from X-ray and microscopy techniques to determine the structure-property relationship. We successfully integrated hydrocarbon membrane MEAs with a current distribution board (CBD) to study the impact of hydrocarbon membrane on water transport in fuel cells. We have designed and fabricated variousmore » GDM with varying substrate, diffusivity and micro-porous layers (MPL) and characterized their pore structure, tortuosity and hydrophobicity. We have derived a universal chart (MacMullin number as function of wet proofing and porosity) that can be used to characterize various GDM. The abovementioned GDMs have been evaluated in operating fuel cells; their performance is correlated to various pore structure, tortuosity and hydrophobicity of the GDM. Unfortunately, determining a universal relationship between the MacMullin number and these properties was not achieved. We have simulated fuel cell performance, current distribution and water distribution at various values of the water uptake, membrane diffusivity, and electro-osmotic drag coefficient (EODC) and compared modeling results with segmented-cell data for both serpentine and parallel flow-fields. We have developed iterations of fuel cell flow fields to achieve specific water transport and thermal management targets. This work demonstrated the importance of membrane diffusivity on fuel cell performance, the necessity of a high membrane diffusion coefficient, and the desirability of a low EODC at low levels of relative humidity.« less
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  1. Giner, Inc., Auburndale, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
GI/GES C08-60
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Giner, Inc., Auburndale, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Fuel Cell Technologies Program (EE-3F)
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN; 25 ENERGY STORAGE Gas-Diffusion; Fuel cell; Segmented-cell; membrane