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Applied Energy, Vol.257, 2020
Thermal management of edge-cooled 1 kW portable proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack
Comprehensive numerical analyses are conducted to study the influence of thermal management on performance of 1 kW edge-cooled proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack without external humidification. The experimental stack and numerical three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics model are characterized by several novelty aspects. Two numerical approaches are considered and compared for a prescribed load profile: (i) lumped model and novel (ii) real-time transient computational fluid dynamics model incorporating realistic modeling of forced air convection on the edge-cooling of the stack. The novelty of the developed computational fluid dynamics model is the capability to give insight in the transient results in only a fraction of time vs. experimental testing (40 min vs. 4 h) and other computational fluid dynamics models of fuel cells which are only capable of steady-state analysis. The developed computational fluid dynamics model is used to study the influence of (i) bipolar plate materials (ii) operating delta pressure along the flow field and (iii) different cooling fin configurations on the water and heat balance inside the stack. The results indicate that (i) maximal and average temperatures of the stack are almost linearly correlated to the thermal conductivity of bipolar plate materials and maximal temperatures can be significantly higher (ii) the operating delta pressure can be manipulated to increase the performance of the stack and (iii) the cooling fin redesign has major influence on the overall temperature uniformity across the stack. Additionally, the heat transfer between the stack and metal hydride tank is studied.