Mathematical Modeling for a PEM Fuel Cell


Chris Raymond, NJIT


Student Team:

Jutta Bikowski, Colorado State University

Aranya Chakrabortty, RPI

Kamyar Hazaveh, Georgia Institute of Technology

Polina Jeglova, RPI

Rajinder Mavi, RPI

Joel Phillips, McGill University

Veronica Respress, University of Dayton.





The objective of this problem is the study of the mechanisms that take place in the cathode Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL) of a Hydrogen-Oxygen Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell. Within a Gas Diffusion Membrane, transport of liquid water, water vapor, oxygen, nitrogen and heat are the main processes taking place. This is modeled using convection-diffusion equations for both oxygen and water vapor in the layer supplemented with suitable boundary conditions. The goals in this work include (1) the numerical solution of the scaled two-dimensional problem, (2) the validation of the one-dimensional solutions, (3) an analysis of the anisotropic nature of the membrane, and (4) a better treatment of the temperature and pressure along the layer. The group was able to solve numerically the two-dimensional problem after the introduction of dimensionless variables. The solutions obtained using two different numerical schemes were compared. The non-dimensionalization introduces a small parameter, which relates the aspect ratio between the height and the width of the layer. In the asymptotic case when this small parameter approaches zero the problem reduces to a set of two ODEs. The solution of these equations was compared against results previously obtained for the one-dimensional case. The convection-diffusion equations were generalized to consider the anisotropic nature of the layer. The resulting equations were solved numerically. For some particular choices, the distribution of oxygen along the layer appears to be more efficient as compared to the isotropic case.