3D fine-mesh flow-fields recently developed by Toyota Mirai improved water management and mass transport in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks, suggesting their potential value for robust and high-power PEM fuel cell stack performance. In such complex flow-fields, Forchheimer's inertial effect is dominant at high current density. In this work, a two-phase flow model of 3D complex flow-fields of PEMFCs is developed by accounting for Forchheimer's inertial effect, for the first time, to elucidate the underlying mechanism of liquid water behavior and mass transport inside 3D complex flow-fields and their adjacent gas diffusion layers (GDL). It is found that Forchheimer's inertial effect enhances liquid water removal from flow-fields and adds additional flow resistance around baffles, which improves interfacial liquid water and mass transport. As a result, substantial improvements in high current density cell performance and operational stability are expected in PEMFCs with 3D complex flow-fields, compared to PEMFCs with conventional flow-fields. Higher current density operation required to further reduce PEMFC stack cost per kW in the future will necessitate optimizing complex flow-field designs using the present model, in order to efficiently remove a large amount of product water and hence minimize the mass transport voltage loss.
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