Numerical Computation Of Multi-Component Two-Phase Flow in Cathode Of PEM Fuel Cells

Document Type : Research Article


Graduate Student, member of Energy Conversion Research Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) Tehran, Iran, 15875—4413,


A two-dimensional, unsteady, isothermal and two-phase flow of reactant-product mixture in the air-side electrode of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) is studied numerically in the present study. The mixture is composed of oxygen, nitrogen, liquid water and water vapor. The governing equations are two species conservation, a single momentum equation for mobile mixture, liquid mass conservation, and the whole mixture mass conservation. In this study, liquid mass conservation is used to calculate the saturation, so, the effect of liquid phase velocity and also saturation at previous time step are accounted in calculating the next time step saturation. The capillary pressure was used to express the slip velocity between the phases. The strongly coupled equations are solved using the finite volume SIMPLER scheme of Patankar (1984). The computational domain consists of an open area (gas delivery channel), and a porous Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL). A single set of governing equations are solved for both sub domains with respect to each sub domain property. The comparison between the numerical current density and that of experimental (Ticianelli et al.(1988)) shows a good agreement.


[1]     Bird, R.B., Steward, W. and Lightfoot, E.N., 2002, ``Transport Phenomena'', Wiley, New York.
[2]     Ticianelli, E. A., Derouin, C. R., Redondo, A. and Srinivasan S.,1988,``Methods to Advance Technology of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells'' J. of The Electrochem. Soc., 135, 2209.
[3]     Bernardi, D.M., Verbrugge M.W., 1991, ``Mathematical model of a gas diffusion electrode bonded to a polymer electrolyte'', AIChE J., 37 1151–-1163.
[4]     Bernardi, D.M., Verbrugge M.W., 1992, ``A mathematical model for the solid-polymer-electrode fuel cell'', J. of The Electrochem. Soc.,139 2477–-2491.
[5]     Springer, F.E., Zawodzinski, T.A., Gottesfeld S., 1991,``Polymer electrolyte fuel cell model'', J. Electrochem. Soc., 138 2334–-2342.
[6]     Nguyen, T.V., White, R.E.,1993 , ``A water and thermal management model for proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells'', J. Electrochem. Soc., 140 2178–-2186.
[7]     Gurau, V., Liu, H.T., Kakac, S.,1998 , ``Two-dimensional model for proton exchange membrane fuel cells'', AIChE J., 44 2410-–2422.
[8]     Wang, Z.H., Wang, C.Y., Chen, K.S., 2001, ``Two-phase flow and transport in the air cathode of PEM fuel cells'', J. Power Source, 94 40–-50.
[9]     Natarajan, D. and Nguyen, T. V., 2001, ``A Two-Dimensional, Two-phase, Multicomponent, Transient Model for the Cathode of a Proton Exchange Fuel Cell Using Conventional Gas Distributors'', J. of The Electrochem. Soc., 148 (12) A1324--A1335
[10]   You, L. and Liu, H., 2002, ``A two-phase flow and transport model for the cathode of PEM fuel cells'', Int. J. of Heat and Mass Transfer, 45 2277–-2287
[11]   Parthasarathy, A., Srinivasan, S., Appleby, J. A. and Martin, C. R., 1992,``Temperature Dependence of the Electrode Kinetics of Oxygen Reduction at the Platinum/Na on Interface – A Microelectrode Investigation'', J. of The Electrochem. Soc., 139(9):2530–-2537.
[12]   Nguyen, P. T. B.E.Sc., 2003, ``A Three-Dimensional Computational Model of PEM Fuel Cell with Serpentine Gas Channels'', University of Western Ontario.
[13]   Nam, J. H.; Kaviany, M., 2003, ``Effective Diffusivity and Water-Saturation Distribution in Single- and Two-Layer PEMFC Diffusion Medium'', Int. J. Heat and Mass Transfer, 46, 4595--4611.
[14]   Khakbaz Baboli, M., 2007, ``A Two-Dimensional Computational model of cathode electrode of PEM fuel cells'', M.Sc. Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran polytechnic), Tehran, Iran.