Conference paper Open Access

Multiphase Non-Isothermal Modeling of a Flowing Electrolyte - Direct Methanol Fuel Cell

Faruk Atacan; David Ouellette; C. Ozgur Colpan

Methanol crossover is one of the biggest shortcomings for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) due to fact that it causes degradation to the cathode catalyst layer.The flowing electrolyte – direct methanol fuel cell (FE-DMFC) is a potential solution to this shortcoming, whereby the anode and cathode are separated by a flowing liquid electrolyte, such as diluted sulfuric acid. Any methanol that attempts to crossover is removed by the flowing electrolyte channel, thus protecting the cathode. Many researchers have modeled this fuel cell, however the majority of these studies have been single phase and examined the performance of the FE-DMFC under different operating conditions. Recently, a two-phase model of the FE-DMFC has been developed using a single-domain formulation of the multiphase mixture model (MMM). Due to the more realistic modeling predictions from this multiphase model, the single domain formulation will be extended to account for 2D and non-isothermal effects within the FE-DMFC. This proposed two-dimensional two phase, non-isothermal model is formulated and solved in a COMSOL Multiphysics environment and validated against experimental FE-DMFC data. The physics of this fuel cell are examined and discussed for varied inlet temperatures and flow rates of the anode, cathode and flowing electrolyte channel as well as varied set point temperatures (channel wall temperatures). A focus is placed on the energy and thermo-osmotic transport within the fuel cell and their effect on the fuel cell’s performance. 

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: 2016-05-26

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