For optimal operating conditions of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEM FC), a sophisticated water management is crucial. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the transport mechanisms of water throughout the cell constituents especially on the cathode where the excess water has to be removed. Microscale modeling of diffusion layers and flow field has been established as a favorable technique to investigate the ongoing processes.
In this research project, the gas diffusion layer and the cathode flow field are considered as a porous medium. For an analysis of the occurring processes on a pore-scale a pore network modeling approach is used. This concept allows a more flexible and more efficient handling of the flow regimes and occurring phenomena than a direct numerical simulation.
Investigating the interface between the porous layers, a particular challenge is the combination and interaction of the different material structures and wetting properties at the interface and its influence on the flow. The PhD project is part of a cooperation with the Robert Bosch GmbH and focusses on the development of a concept to model the interface between the porous layers on the cathode side of a PEM fuel cell .