Two-dimensional mathematical model and numerical simulation of the transport processes and cell performance of proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Sadik Kakac, Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Hongtan Liu, Committee Member


A two dimensional, mathematical model for the entire sandwich of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell including the gas channels' is developed. To take into consideration the real concentration distributions along the interface between the gas diffuser and catalyst layer, transport equations are solved simultaneously for the domain consisting of the coupled gas channel, gas diffuser, catalyst layer and membrane. The self-consistent schematical model for porous media is used for the equations describing transport phenomena in the membrane, catalyst layers and gas diffusers, while standard Navier-Stokes, energy transport, continuity and species concentration equations are solved in the gas channels. A special handling of the transport equations enabled us to use the same numerical method to solve them, and therefore to treat the gas channel-gas diffuser-catalyst layer domains as an entirety, avoiding arbitrary boundary conditions at their interfaces. The oxygen and water vapor mole fraction distribution in the coupled cathode gas channel-gas diffuser is studied for different values of the operating current density. Influences of the inlet conditions at the gas channel entries and of the gas diffuser porosity on the cell performance are also analyzed.


Engineering, Chemical; Engineering, Mechanical

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text