Liquid water transport in a mixed-wet gas diffusion layer of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell

Puneet K. Sinha, Chao Yang Wang

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Abstract

After PTFE treatment, a gas diffusion layer (GDL) of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) features mixed wettability, which substantially impacts liquid water transport and associated mass transport losses. A pore-network model is developed in this work to delineate the effect of GDL wettability distribution on pore-scale liquid water transport in a GDL under fuel cell operating conditions. It is found that in a mixed-wet GDL liquid water preferentially flows through connected GDL hydrophilic network, and thereby suppresses the finger-like morphology observed in a wholly hydrophobic GDL. The effect of GDL hydrophilic fraction distribution is investigated, and the existence of an optimum hydrophilic fraction that leads to the least mass transport losses is established. The need for controlled PTFE treatment is stressed, and a wettability-tailored GDL is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1091
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Volume63
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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