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Influences of Co-Flow and Counter-Flow Modes of Reactant Flow Arrangement on a PEMFC at Start-Up

Qianqian Shao1, Min Wang2,*, Nuo Xu1

1 School of Petroleum Engineering, Guangdong University of Petrochemical Technology, Maoming, 525000, China
2 Mechanics Division, Beijing Computational Science Research Center, Beijing, 100193, China

* Corresponding Author: Min Wang. Email: email

Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences 2024, 139(2), 1337-1356.


To investigate the influences of co-flow and counter-flow modes of reactant flow arrangement on a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) during start-up, unsteady physical and mathematical models fully coupling the flow, heat, and electrochemical reactions in a PEMFC are established. The continuity equation and momentum equation are solved by handling pressure-velocity coupling using the SIMPLE algorithm. The electrochemical reaction rates in the catalyst layers (CLs) of the cathode and anode are calculated using the Butler-Volmer equation. The multiphase mixture model describes the multiphase transport process of gas mixtures and liquid water in the fuel cell. After validation, the influences of co-flow and counter-flow modes on the PEMFC performance are investigated, including the evolution of the current density, flow field, temperature field, and reactant concentration field during start-up, as well as the steady distribution of the current density, reactant concentration, and membrane water content when the start-up stabilizes. Co-flow and counter-flow modes influence the current density distribution and temperature distribution. On the one hand, the co-flow mode accelerates the start-up process of the PEMFC and leads to a more evenly distributed current density than the counter-flow mode. On the other hand, the temperature difference between the inlet and outlet sections of the cell is up to 10.1°C under the co-flow mode, much larger than the 5.0°C observed in the counter-flow mode. Accordingly, the counter-flow mode results in a more evenly distributed temperature and a lower maximum temperature than the co-flow case. Therefore, in the flow field design of a PEMFC, the reactant flow arrangements can be considered to weigh between better heat management and higher current density distribution of the cell.


Cite This Article

Shao, Q., Wang, M., Xu, N. (2024). Influences of Co-Flow and Counter-Flow Modes of Reactant Flow Arrangement on a PEMFC at Start-Up. CMES-Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences, 139(2), 1337–1356.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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