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Modeling the Effect of Discrete Distributions of Platinum Particles in the PEM Fuel Cell Catalyst Layer

C.F. Cetinbas1 A.K. Prasad2 S.G. Advani1
1Center for Fuel Cell Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
2University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

Effect of catalyst loading on performance obtained with (a) the uniform coverage approach, and (b) the discrete particle approach.

In this study, the basic catalyst layer (CL) structure, consisting of carbon-supported Pt particles (C|Pt) and an ionomer binder, is investigated numerically by using COMSOL. The significance of modeling discrete Pt particles on the carbon support is highlighted by comparing the cell performance results to the case in which the Pt is assumed to be distributed uniformly over the carbon support as a thin layer. The results reveal that the discretely-distribution approach can capture diffusion losses due to particle interactions. In contrast, the uniform-coverage assumption is unable to capture the effect of Pt loading on the diffusion-limited region of the performance curve. In addition, a parametric study is conducted to investigate the range of influence of the discretely-distributed Pt particles.

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