Research Papers

Experimental Analysis of Water Vapor Diffusion Through Porous Membranes in a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Lalit Kumar Bansal

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Indian Institute of Science,
Bangalore 560012, India
e-mail: bslalit@mecheng.iisc.ernet.in

P. Deepu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Indian Institute of Science,
Bangalore 560012, India
e-mail: pdeepu@mecheng.iisc.ernet.in

Saptarshi Basu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Indian Institute of Science,
Bangalore 560012, India
e-mail: sbasu@mecheng.iisc.ernet.in

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Heat Transfer of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received April 30, 2014; final manuscript received April 29, 2015; published online August 11, 2015. Assoc. Editor: P. K. Das.

J. Heat Transfer 137(12), 121005 (Aug 11, 2015) (8 pages) Paper No: HT-14-1274; doi: 10.1115/1.4030921 History: Received April 30, 2014

We report the diffusion characteristics of water vapor through two different porous media, viz., membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and gas diffusion layer (GDL) in a nonoperational fuel cell. Tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) was employed for measuring water vapor concentration in the test channel. Effects of the membrane pore size and the inlet humidity on the water vapor transport are quantified through mass flux and diffusion coefficient. Water vapor transport rate is found to be higher for GDL than for MEA. The flexibility and wide range of application of TDLAS in a fuel cell setup is demonstrated through experiments with a stagnant flow field on the dry side.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of (a) the flow-field plate (width (2 mm) × depth (4 mm)) with the test channel labeled and (b) the experimental setup

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Fig. 2

Wavelength of the laser beam as a function of laser temperature and current

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Fig. 3

(a) A sample IR thermograph. (b) The spatial variation of membrane surface temperature at two values of phi. (c) Locations of the thermocouples on the humid side and the dry side and (d) temporal variation of the air temperature in the channel (thermocouple location as shown in (a)) and at the outlet of the cell for the two sides. Dry air inlet temperature is always at room temperature (25 °C) and humid air inlet temperature steady-state value is 72 °C and these are not presented in the figure for clarity.

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Fig. 4

(a) Absorption profiles of water vapor at different partial pressures. (b) Cartoon showing the measurement details of FWHM of an absorption profile for obtaining the calibration curve. (c) Calibration curve.

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Fig. 5

Decrease in water vapor partial pressure as a function of phi for GDL in (a) humid side and (b) dry side

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Fig. 6

Water vapor partial pressures at the humid side and the dry side for different values of phi for case 2

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Fig. 7

Decrease in water vapor partial pressure as a function of phi for MEA in humid side

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Fig. 8

(a) Results from the SAXS carried out on the MEA for dry and wet conditions (q is called scattering vector) (Courtesy: Dr. Debasis Sen from BARC). (b) SEM image of GDL (pore size ∼50–200 μm) (equivalent pore diameter is calculated using Huebscher equation given by d = 1.30 × ((a × b)0.625/(a + b)0.25)).

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Fig. 9

Comparison of mass flux between MEA and GDL as a function of phi. For MEA, it is mass depletion rate.

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Fig. 10

Schematic showing water transport from humid side for (a) GDL and (b) MEA

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Fig. 11

Diffusion coefficients at different phi for (a) GDL and (b) MEA

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Fig. 12

Water absorbed by the MEA at different phi



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