Conference paper Open Access

Numerical Studies of a 3D DMFC Short-Stack

David Ouellette; C. Ozgur Colpan

One of the primary challenges in fuel cell stack models, is the lack of numerical methods and computational
resources available to handle a full-scale stack geometry (which can often have ~10-100 single cells stacked in
series) to at least the same grid resolution and detailed physics as could be obtained in an equivalently detailed
single cell model. To help resolve this challenge, a 3D modelling approach is proposed, and applied to a 5-cell direct
methanol fuel cell (DMFC) short-stack. In this approach, the flow fields, backing layers and membranes are solved
numerically in a 3D manner, whereas the electrochemical performance is solved analytically. This approach allowed
for the detailed physics to be incorporated into the model without the requirement of a high mesh density within the
MEA. Thus softening the computational load. Since it is well-known that non-uniform flow distributions within the
stack’s cells and within the MEA can lead to accelerated aging of the fuel cell components, a parametric study on
the anode and cathode flow rates, and methanol concentrations are examined numerically. The model was used to
shed light onto the mechanisms that lead to non-uniform flow behaviour within the stack’s cells; help identify
methods to maintain a uniform flow and concentration distribution within the stack; and to provide methods to
minimize methanol crossover to the cathode.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 661579. 

Project Name: Development of a High Performance Flowing Electrolyte-Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Stack Through Modeling and Experimental Studies

Acronym: FEDMFC

Publication date: 2017-05-17

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