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Characterization of gas transport phenomena in gas diffusion layers in a membrane fuel cell

Abstract : In membrane fuel cells, the feed gas must pass through a porous layer of carbonaceous material (GDL, gas diffusion layer) to access the catalyst, enabling the electrochemical reaction and subsequent energy production. In general, this layer consists of a macroporous substrate (MPS) covered by a thinner structural undercoat called a microporous layer (MPL) in contact with the electrode. The project here focuses on the study of gas transport phenomena in commercially available diffusion layers, which are essentially complex porous media (MPL+MPS). GDLs have a key role in the distribution of gases and the evacuation of produced water: in addition to diffusion and convection, the intrinsic properties of these layers are known to play a significant role on the overall performance of the fuel cell. The present approach relies on various sources of experimental observations to understand and characterize these transport flows in GDL in order to obtain a phenomenological formalism. To this end, ex-situ measurements using a "diffusion bridge" technique are carried out in a laboratory cell (called a fundamental cell) to estimate the directional permeability of the gas or in a fuel cell to estimate the equivalent permeability under conditions closer to cell operation. Essentially, the conditions for measuring gas transport have been modified, using (i) a single dry gas, (ii) a mixture of dry gases, (iii) humidified gases, (iv) gas flow in the presence of liquid water, and (v) variable cell compression. The results obtained on gas permeability, first through experimentation and then by using the data in established fundamental models, provide more precise information on the gas transport mechanism in these complex-structured GDLs when placed inside PEM fuel cells, leading to a significant understanding.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 26, 2021 - 12:48:06 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 7:09:33 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-03153432, version 1



Mainak Mukherjee. Characterization of gas transport phenomena in gas diffusion layers in a membrane fuel cell. Chemical and Process Engineering. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0176⟩. ⟨tel-03153432⟩



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