A three-dimensional numerical model of the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) is applied to study current distribution and cell performance under a current density boundary condition. Since the electronic resistance in the along-channel direction in the current collector plate is much larger than in the other two directions, i.e., 50 mΩ cm2 vs. 0.5 mΩ cm2, it significantly affects current flow, and current and cell voltage distributions in a PEFC. An identical polarization curve results with two different boundary conditions, constant cell voltage and constant current density, however, the current density profiles in the along-channel direction differ significantly; it is much flatter for the constant current boundary condition. Increasing the electronic conductivity of the bipolar plate diminishes the difference in the current density distribution under the two boundary conditions. The results also point out that an experimental validation of a PEFC model based on the polarization curve alone is insufficient, and that detailed current density distribution data in the along-channel direction is essential.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology