Effect of gas diffusion layer modulus and land–groove geometry on membrane stresses in proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Zongwen Lu, Changsik Kim, Anette M. Karlsson, James C. Cross III, Michael H. Santare
Journal of Power Sources, Volume 196, Issue 10, 15 May 2011, Pages 4646-4654

Abstract

The electrical functionality of PEM fuelcells is facilitated by minimizing the contact resistances between different materials in the fuelcell, which is achieved via compressive clamping. The effect of the gasdiffusionlayer (GDL) modulus on the in-plane stress in the membrane after clamping is studied via numerical simulations, including both isotropic and anisotropic GDL properties. Furthermore, the effect of cell width and land–groove width ratio on the in-plane stress in the membrane subjected to a single hygro-thermal cycle is investigated for aligned and alternating gas channel geometries. The results from varying the GDL properties suggest that the in-plane stress in the membrane after clamping is due to a non-linear and coupled interaction of GDL and membrane deformation. The results of the geometric studies indicate that when the gas channels are aligned, the cell width and land–groove width ratio affect the in-plane stress distribution, but do not significantly affect the stress magnitudes. However, when the gas channels are alternating, the cell width and land–groove width ratio have significant effect on the membrane in-plane stresses. The effect of land–groovegeometry is qualitatively verified by a series of experimental compression tests.

Research Highlights

  • We first report the effect of the gasdiffusionlayer (GDL) modulus on the membranestress after clamping.
  • Although some researchers have investigated the fuelcellgeometry, we are the first one to study the geometric effect on the mechanical stresses and obtain some interesting results.
  • Our numerical work is qualitatively verified by experimental work.

 

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