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  A CFD analysis on the effect of ambient conditions on the hygro-thermal stresses distribution in a planar ambient air-breathing PEM fuel cell
Titel: A CFD analysis on the effect of ambient conditions on the hygro-thermal stresses distribution in a planar ambient air-breathing PEM fuel cell
Auteur: Maher A.R. Sadiq Al-Baghdadi
Verschenen in: International journal of energy and environment
Paginering: Jaargang 2 (2011) nr. 4 pagina's 589-604
Jaar: 2011
Inhoud: The need for improved lifetime of air-breathing proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for portable applications necessitates that the failure mechanisms be clearly understood and life prediction models be developed, so that new designs can be introduced to improve long-term performance. An operating air-breathing PEM fuel cell has varying local conditions of temperature and humidity. As a result of in the changes in temperature and moisture, the membrane, GDL and bipolar plates will all experience expansion and contraction. Because of the different thermal expansion and swelling coefficients between these materials, hygro-thermal stresses are introduced into the unit cell during operation. In addition, the non-uniform current and reactant flow distributions in the cell result in non-uniform temperature and moisture content of the cell which could in turn, potentially causing localized increases in the stress magnitudes, and this leads to mechanical damage, which can appear as through-the-thickness flaws or pinholes in the membrane, or delaminating between the polymer membrane and gas diffusion layers. Therefore, in order to acquire a complete understanding of these damage mechanisms in the membranes and gas diffusion layers, mechanical response under steady-state hygro-thermal stresses should be studied under real cell operation conditions. A three-dimensional, multi–phase, non-isothermal computational fluid dynamics model of a planar ambient air-breathing, proton exchange membrane fuel cell has been developed and used to study the effects of ambient conditions on the temperature distribution, displacement, deformation, and stresses inside the cell. The behaviour of the fuel cell during operation has been studied and investigated under real cell operating conditions. A unique feature of the present model is to incorporate the effect of mechanical, hygro and thermal stresses into actual three-dimensional fuel cell model. The results show that the non-uniform distribution of stresses, caused by the temperature gradient in the cell, induces localized bending stresses, which can contribute to delaminating between the membrane and the gas diffusion layers. The non-uniform distribution of stresses can also contribute to delaminating between the gas diffusion layers and the current collectors. These stresses may explain the occurrence of cracks and pinholes in the fuel cells components under steady–state loading during regular cell operation, especially in the high loading conditions. The results showed that the ambient conditions (ambient temperature and relative humidity) have a strong impact on the temperature distribution and hygro-thermal stresses inside the cell.
Uitgever: International Energy and Environment Foundation (IEEF) (provided by DOAJ)
Bronbestand: Elektronische Wetenschappelijke Tijdschriften

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