A Review of Water Management in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells
Received: 4 September 2009 / Accepted: 11 November 2009 / Published: 17 November 2009
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At present, despite the great advances in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) technology over the past two decades through intensive research and development activities, their large-scale commercialization is still hampered by their higher materials cost and lower reliability and durability. In this
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At present, despite the great advances in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) technology over the past two decades through intensive research and development activities, their large-scale commercialization is still hampered by their higher materials cost and lower reliability and durability. In this review, water management is given special consideration. Water management is of vital importance to achieve maximum performance and durability from PEMFCs. On the one hand, to maintain good proton conductivity, the relative humidity of inlet gases is typically held at a large value to ensure that the membrane remains fully hydrated. On the other hand, the pores of the catalyst layer (CL) and the gas diffusion layer (GDL) are frequently flooded by excessive liquid water, resulting in a higher mass transport resistance. Thus, a subtle equilibrium has to be maintained between membrane drying and liquid water flooding to prevent fuel cell degradation and guarantee a high performance level, which is the essential problem of water management. This paper presents a comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art studies of water management, including the experimental methods and modeling and simulation for the characterization of water management and the water management strategies. As one important aspect of water management, water flooding has been extensively studied during the last two decades. Herein, the causes, detection, effects on cell performance and mitigation strategies of water flooding are overviewed in detail. In the end of the paper the emphasis is given to: (i) the delicate equilibrium of membrane drying vs. water flooding in water management; (ii) determining which phenomenon is principally responsible for the deterioration of the PEMFC performance, the flooding of the porous electrode or the gas channels in the bipolar plate, and (iii) what measures should be taken to prevent water flooding from happening in PEMFCs.
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fuel Cells