Treatment of two-phase flow in cathode gas channel for an improved one-dimensional proton exchange membrane fuel cell model

K. H. Wong, Ka Hong Loo, Y. M. Lai, Siew Chong Tan, Chi Kong Tse

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


It has been reported recently that water flooding in the cathode gas channel has significant effects on the characteristics of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. A better understanding of this phenomenon with the aid of an accurate model is necessary for improving the water management and performance of fuel cell. However, this phenomenon is often not considered in the previous one-dimensional models where zero or a constant liquid water saturation level is assumed at the interface between gas diffusion layer and gas channel. In view of this, a one-dimensional fuel cell model that includes the effects of two-phase flow in the gas channel is proposed. The liquid water saturation along the cathode gas channel is estimated by adopting Darcy's law to describe the convective flow of liquid water under various inlet conditions, i.e. air pressure, relative humidity and air stoichiometry. The averaged capillary pressure of gas channel calculated from the liquid water saturation is used as the boundary value at the interface to couple the cathode gas channel model to the membrane electrode assembly model. Through the coupling of the two modeling domains, the water distribution inside the membrane electrode assembly is associated with the inlet conditions. The simulation results, which are verified against experimental data and simulation results from a published computational fluid dynamics model, indicate that the effects of relative humidity and stoichiometry of inlet air are crucial to the overall fuel cell performance. The proposed model gives a more accurate treatment of the water transport in the cathode region, which enables an improved water management through an understanding of the effects of inlet conditions on the fuel cell performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3941-3955
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Gas channel flooding
  • Inlet gas conditions
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
  • Two-phase flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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