CFD Model for improved flow field designs in fuel cells

Maldistributions reducing performance and life time of fuel cells

The distribution of species concentrations in a fuel cell due to local consumption of fuel and local transport of water through the membrane causes maldistributions in current density, temperature, and water concentration in three dimensions. This causes flooding or drying of the membrane, shortens the life time of the MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) and results in lower catalyst utilization. Changing the cell’s flow field design can minimize these stresses and result in optimal catalyst utilization.

Solution: alternative flow field designs

The Chemical Engineering Department (CHIS) of the VUB develops alternative flow field designs that exhibit better distribution characteristics, which is of great importance to optimize cell efficiency and life duration. The 3-dimensional computational fluid dynamic model (CFD) allows the testing of different flow field designs. Up to now, 2 designs have been identified that show large improvements in terms of performance and pressure drop.

Competitive advantages

  • Improved efficiency due to mass transfer intensification
  • Higher production of chemicals due to the improved performance
  • Production of improved bipolar plates or fuel cells with higher overall fuel cell performance
  • Accelerating development of new and better flow field designs (intelligent design)

Licensing opportunity

Both the new and improved designs, or the CFD model itself can be licensed.

Interested parties can contact

VUB TechTransfer
Hugo Loosvelt
[T]: +32 (0)2 629 38 65 or 22 07

Chemical Engineering - CHIS
Gert Desmet
Joeri Denayer

Download the full technology description here.