A two-phase and multi-component model for the cathode of PEM fuel cells

Lixin You, Hongtan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A two-dimensional, two-phase and multi-component flow and transport model has been developed to simulate the flow and transport phenomena in the cathodes of PEM fuel cells. First, the governing equations based on a "two-phase mixture model" are derived by sing a unified approach that describes the flow and transport in the gas channel and gas diffuser simultaneously. Then, the detailed boundary conditions are discussed especially at the gas difiuser/catalyst layer interface, which couples the flow, transport, potential and current density in the anode, the catalyst layer and membrane. Next, the model is validated by comparing the modeling results with experimental data. Further, typical distributions of oxygen and water-mass fraction in the "two-phase mixture," as well as water vapor mass fraction, liquid saturation and liquid velocity vector are presented. Finally, the model is used to study the influences of two of the most critical issues of PEM fuel cell operation: i.e., the water and the thermal management on the two-phase flow. It was found that the two-phase flow characteristics in the cathode depend on some of the following factors: current density, operating temperature, and cathode and anode humidification temperatures. The dependence of the formation and the distribution of the two-phase flow in the gas diffuser and gas channel on these factors is explored. By studying the effects of these parameters on the two-phase flow and the fuel cell performance, the model can be used to study a water and thermal management scheme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Heat Transfer Division, (Publication) HTD
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001
Event2001 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition - New York, NY, United States
Duration: Nov 11 2001Nov 16 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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