Numerical analyses of proton electrolyte membrane fuel cell's performance having a perforated type gas flow distributor

  • Muhammad Shakeel Virk

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis presents a compendium of work related to performance analyses of a proton electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell with two novel design configurations. The finite element based numerical analysis has been carried out to solve the numerical transport models involved in a PEM fuel cell coupled with the flow in a porous medium, charge balance, electrochemical kinetics and membrane water content. The scope of this research work focuses on improving the performance of the PEM fuel cell by optimizing the thermo-fluid properties of the reactant species instead of analysing the complex electro-chemical interactions. Two new design configurations have been numerically analyzed; in the first design approach, a perforated-type gas flow distributor is used instead of a conventional gas flow distributor such as a serpentine, straight or spiral shape; the second design approach examines the effect of reactant flow pulsation on the PEM fuel cell performance. Results obtained from the numerical analyses were also compared with the experimental data and a good agreement was found.

    Performance of the PEM fuel cell with a perforated-type gas distributor was analyzed at different operating and geometric conditions to explore the merits of this new design configuration. Two-dimensional numerical analyses were carried out to analyze the effect of varying the different operating parameters; three-dimensional numerical analyses were carried out to study the variation of different geometric parameters on overall performance of the new design configuration of the PEM fuel cell.

    The effects of the reactant flow pulsation on the performance of PEM fuel cell were analyzed using a two-dimensional numerical approach where both active and passive design configurations were numerically simulated to generate the pulsations in the reactant flow. The results showed a considerable increase in overall performance of the PEM fuel cell by introducing pulsations in the flow.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorErik Holdo (Supervisor)


    • fuel cell technology
    • proton electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell
    • fluid dynamics

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