Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



The performance of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) using different feeding configurations has been studied, with a focus on the water flooding due to electrochemical reaction. Feeding channel or Bipolar plate in Proton Exchange Fuel Cell is a dominating part. As feeding channel keeps direct contact with the gas diffusion layer, it helps efficiently supplying fuel and air into the gas diffusion layer for efficient production of electricity. Experimental data have been taken at hydrogen flow rates of 20,40,60,80,100 sccm for various bipolar plate arrangements. Three bipolar plates, namely serpentine, straight channel and interdigitated designs, were arranged in different combinations for the PEMFC anode and cathode sides. Nine combinations in total were tested under different flow rates, working temperatures and loadings. The cell voltage versus current density and the cell power density versus current density curves were obtained. Experimental results showed that for different feeding configurations, interdigitated bipolar plate in anode side and serpentine bipolar plate in cathode side had the best performance in terms of cell voltage-current density curve, power density output rate, percentage of flooded area in the feeding channels, the pattern of water flooding and the fuel utilization rate. It is found that the water patterns had a most dominating role for the cell performance. Naturally water forms due to the chemical reaction. The water could accumulate in the cell and lead to a lower cell performance. After operating the PEMFC under high current densities, the cell was split and the water flooding pattern in the feeding channels was visually inspected. Detailed studies of cell performance using a single channel bipolar plate have been performed. Experimental data for one channel were taken under a variety of flow rates. Computational simulations have been conducted for this one channel ‘cell’ and the simulation results were compared with the experimental results. Comparison shows very little difference between the experimental and the simulation work. It is expected that the outcomes of this study could help the future design of Proton Exchange Fuel Cell.



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Committee Chair

Srinath V. Ekkad