A Compressible Fluid Flow Model Coupling Channel and Porous Media Flows and Its Application to Fuel Cell Materials

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  • A multi-dimensional, compressible fluid flow solver, valid in both channel and porous media, is derived by volume-averaging the Navier-Stokes equations. By selecting an appropriate average density/velocity pair, a continuous, stable solution is obtained for both pressure and velocity. The proposed model is validated by studying the pressure drop of two commonly used experimental setups to measure in-plane and through-plane permeability of fuel cell porous media. Numerical results show that the developed model is able to reproduce the experimentally measured pressure drop at varying flow rates. Further, it highlights that previously used methods of extracting permeability, which rely on the use of simplified one-dimensional models, are not appropriate when high flow rates are used to study the porous media. At high flow rates, channel-porous media interactions cannot be neglected and can result in incorrect permeability estimations. For example, at flow rates of 1 SLPM a discrepancy of 12% in pressure drop was observed when using previous permeability values instead of the values obtained in the article using the proposed 3D model. Given that at high flow rate one-dimensional models might not be appropriate, previous estimations of Forchheimer permeability might not be accurate. To illustrate the suitability of the numerical model to fuel cell applications, fluid flow by-pass in serpentine and interdigitated fuel cell flow channels is also investigated.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International