Transport Studies in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells With Porous Metallic Flow Field at Ultra-high Current Density
- Restrictions on Access:
- Open Access.
- Achieving cost reduction for polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) requires a simultaneous effort in increasing power density while reducing precious metal loading. In PEFCs, the cathode performance is often limiting due to both the slow oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), and mass transport limitation caused by limited oxygen diffusion and liquid water flooding at high current density. This study is motivated by the achievement of ultra-high current density through the elimination of the channel/land (C/L) paradigm in PEFC flow field design. An open metallic element (OME) flow field capable of operating at unprecedented ultra-high current density (3 A/cm2) introduces new advantages and limitations for PEFC operation. The first part of this study compares the OME with a conventional C/L flow field, through performance and electrochemical diagnostic tools such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The results indicate the uniqueness of the OME's mass transport improvement. No sign of operation limitation due to flooding is noted. The second part specifically examines water management at high current density using the OME flow field. A unique experimental setup is developed to measure steady-state and transient net water drag across the membrane, in order to characterize the fundamental aspects of water transport at high current density with the OME. Instead of flooding, the new limitation is identified to be anode side dry-out of the membrane, caused by electroosmotic drag. The OME improves water removal from the cathode, which immediately improves oxygen transport and performance. However, the low water content in the cathode reduces back diffusion of water to the membrane, and electroosmotic drag dominates at high current density, leading to dry-out. The third part employs the OME flow field as a tool that avoids C/L effects endemic to a typical flow field, in order to study oxygen transport resistance at the catalyst layer of a PEFC. In open literature, a resistance of unknown origin, was shown to directly or indirectly scale with Pt loading. A lack of understanding of the mechanism responsible for such resistance is noted, and several possible theories have been proposed. This lack of fundamental understanding of the origins of this resistance adds complexity to computational models which are designed to capture performance behavior with ultra-low loading electrodes. By employing the OME flow field as a tool to study this phenomena, the origins of the transport resistance appearing at ultra-low Platinum (Pt) loading is proposed to be an increase in oxygen dilution resistance through water film.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University 2014.
- Reproduction Note:
- Microfilm (positive). 1 reel ; 35 mm. (University Microfilms 36-90160)
- Technical Details:
- The full text of the dissertation is available as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file ; Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view the file.
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