Development of a Coupled 2D-3D Fuel Cell Model for Flow Field Analysis

G.H. Miley[1], G. Hawkins[2], and J. Englander[2]
[1] Department of Nuclear, Radiological, and Plasma Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[2] Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The sodium borohydride and hydrogen peroxide liquid fuel cell developed at the University of Illinois shows promise as a viable energy source for a wide range of applications.

To achieve higher powers for a fixed active area, an optimal flow field design is desired, and a coupled 2D-3D model of the fuel cell was developed using the COMSOL Multiphysics software package. The model is governed by the Butler-Volmer equation, Navier-Stokes incompressible flow equations, Darcy’s law, and the convection and diffusion equations that express the electrical characteristics, momentum conservation, and mass conservation respectively.

Results show modifications in the serpentine flow field design can create a significant improvement in current generation. With these modifications the power can be signifigantly increased compared to the standard case.