Berkeley Lab

Physics-based modeling of Fuel Cells

The modeling undertaken at Berkeley Lab is focused on understanding the operation of various fuel-cell components and cells with a focus on transport phenomena, describing the losses in the polarization curve, and examining durability.  Of particular interest are investigations into lower temperature operation where liquid water exists, which is typically below about 50C since above that phase-change-induced (PCI) flow removes water in the vapor phase.

PCI flow:PCIFlow-300x59


The physics in the models typically include



Berkeley Lab models primarily include analytical and 1-D, 1+1D, and 2-D analyses, but also 3-D and 1+2-D are sometimes utilized.

Current modeling work includes:

  1. Cell performance
  2.  Durability and degradation changes including voltage loss breakdown
  3. Impacts of low-loaded catalyst layers
  4. Multiscale model of membrane water uptake including effects of membrane degradation and compression
  5. Membrane degradation mechanisms including pinhole growth
  6. Correlating membrane properties including developing an intrinsic figure of merit for membrane macroscopic water uptake as a function of nanoswelling changes incorporating both humidity and temperature (i.e., thermal history) effects
  7. Models for defect detection technologies and impact (in association with NREL)

For more information contact Adam Weber