Lattice Boltzmann Modeling of Water Cumulation at the Gas Channel-Gas Diffusion Layer Interface in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells
Journal article, 2014
Several experiments have proved that water in liquid phase can be present at the anode of a PEM fuel cell due to vapor condensation resulting in mass transport losses. Nevertheless, it is not yet well understood where exactly water tends to cumulate and how the design of the gas channel (GC) and gas diffusion layer (GDL) could be improved to limit water cumulation. In the present work, a three-dimensional lattice Boltzmann based model is implemented in order to simulate the water cumulation at the GC–GDL interface at the anode of a PEM fuel cell. The numerical model incorporates the H 2 –H 2 O mixture equation of state and spontaneously simulates phase separation phenomena. Different simulations are carried out varying pressure gradient, pore size, and relative height of the GDL. Results reveal that, once saturation conditions are reached, water tends to cumulate in two main regions: the upper and side walls of the GC and the GC–GDL interface, resulting in a limitation of the reactant diffusion from the GC to the GDL. Interestingly, the cumulation of liquid water at the interface is found to diminish as the relative height of the GDL increases.