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An Engineering Toolbox for the Evaluation of Metallic Flow Field Plates

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Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, IEK-3: Electrochemical Process Engineering, 52425 Jülich, Germany
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Borit NV, 2440 Geel, Belgium
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HyET Hydrogen B.V., 6827 AV Arnhem, The Netherlands
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Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
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Modelling in Electrochemical Process Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3040085
Received: 30 July 2019 / Revised: 27 September 2019 / Accepted: 1 October 2019 / Published: 11 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2019 HYPOTHESIS XIV)
Metallic flow field plates, also called bipolar plates, are an important component of fuel cell stacks, electrolyzers, hydrogen purification and compression stacks. The manufacturing of these plates by means of stamping or hydroforming is highly suitable for mass production. In this work, a toolbox is created that is suitable for a screening process of different flow field design variants. For this purpose, the geometry and computational mesh are generated in an automated manner. Basic building blocks are combined using the open source software SALOME, and these allow for the construction of a large variant of serpentine-like flow field structures. These geometric variants are evaluated through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations with the open source software OpenFOAM. The overall procedure allows for the screening of more than 100 variants within one week using a standard desktop computer. The performance of the flow fields is evaluated on the basis of two parameters: the overall pressure difference across the plate and the relative difference of the hydrogen concentration at the outlet of the channels. The results of such a screening first provide information about optimum channel geometry and the best choice of the general flow field layout. Such results are important at the beginning of the design process, as the channel geometry has an influence on the selection of the metal for deep drawing or hydroforming processes.
Keywords: hydrogen purification; hydrogen compression; flow field plate; flow distribution; flow channel geometry; computational fluid dynamics hydrogen purification; hydrogen compression; flow field plate; flow distribution; flow channel geometry; computational fluid dynamics
MDPI and ACS Style

Reimer, U.; Froning, D.; Nelissen, G.; Raymakers, L.F.J.M.; Zhang, S.; Beale, S.B.; Lehnert, W. An Engineering Toolbox for the Evaluation of Metallic Flow Field Plates. ChemEngineering 2019, 3, 85.

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