Title page for ETD etd-12192001-112005

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Genevey, Daniel Bruno
URN etd-12192001-112005
Title Transient Model of Heat,Mass,and Charge transfer as well as Electrochemistry in the Cathode Catalyst Layer of a PEMFC
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
von Spakovsky, Michael R. Committee Chair
Ellis, Michael W. Committee Member
Nelson, Douglas J. Committee Member
Olsommer, Benoit Committee Member
Topin, Frederic Committee Member
  • cathode
  • porous media
  • electrochemical reaction
  • butler-volmer
  • PEFC
  • catalyst layer
Date of Defense 2001-12-17
Availability unrestricted
A transient model of the cathode catalyst layer of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell is presented. The catalyst layer structure can be described as a superposition of the polymer membrane, the backing layer, and some additional platinum particles. The model, which incorporates some of the features of the pseudo-homogeneous models currently present in the literature, considers the kinetics of the electrochemical reaction taking place at the platinum surface, the proton transport through the polymer agglomerates, and the oxygen and water transport within the pores as well as the membrane material of the catalyst layer. Due to the lower porosity of this region and the higher liquid water content, the catalyst layer can be current limiting in the fuel cell. Furthermore, since the cost of the catalyst material is critical, it is important to have a model predicting the effective utilization of this catalyst layer as well as one, which gives insights into how it might be improved.

Equations are presented for the mass conservation of reactants and products, the electrical and ionic currents, and the conservation of energy. A discussion of a number of the closure relations such as the Butler-Volmer equation employed is included as is a discussion of the initial and boundary conditions applied. The mathematical model is solved using a finite elements approach developed at the I.U.S.T.I.

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