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Energies 2017, 10(8), 1222; https://doi.org/10.3390/en10081222

Quantifying Cathode Water Transport via Anode Relative Humidity Measurements in a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

1
Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
2
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A9, Canada
3
Energy Research Institute, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 July 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 15 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
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Abstract

A relative humidity (RH) measurement based on pressure drop analysis is presented as a diagnostic tool to experimentally quantify the amount of excess water on the cathode side of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). Ex-situ pressure drop calibration curves collected at fixed RH values, used with a set of well-defined equations for the anode pressure drop, allows for an estimate of in-situ relative humidity values. During the in-situ test, a dry anode inlet stream at increasing flow rates is used to create an evaporative gradient to drive water from the cathode to the anode. This combination of techniques thus quantitatively determines the changing net cell water flux. Knowing the cathodic water production rate, the net water flux to the anode can explain the influence of liquid and vapor transport as a function of GDL selection. Experimentally obtained quantified values for the water removal rate for a variety of cathode gas diffusion layer (GDL) setups are presented, which were chosen to experimentally vary a range of water management abilities, from high to low performance. The results show that more water is transported to the anode when a GDL with poor water management capabilities is used, due to the higher levels of initial saturation occurring on the cathode. At sufficiently high concentration gradients, the anode removes more water than is produced by the reaction, allowing for the quantification of excess water saturating the cathode. The protocol is broadly accessible and applicable as a quantitative diagnostic tool of water management in PEMFCs. View Full-Text
Keywords: polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell; gas diffusion layer; water management; pressure drop; relative humidity polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell; gas diffusion layer; water management; pressure drop; relative humidity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Battrell, L.; Trunkle, A.; Eggleton, E.; Zhang, L.; Anderson, R. Quantifying Cathode Water Transport via Anode Relative Humidity Measurements in a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell. Energies 2017, 10, 1222.

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