Journal of Power Sources, Vol.179, No.1, 200-208, 2008
Analytic determination of the effective thermal conductivity of PEM fuel cell gas diffusion layers
Accurate information on the temperature field and associated heat transfer rates are particularly important in devising appropriate heat and water management strategies in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. An important parameter in fuel cell performance analysis is the effective thermal conductivity of the gas diffusion layer (GDL). Estimation of the effective thermal conductivity is complicated because of the random nature of the GDL micro structure. In the present study, a compact analytical model for evaluating the effective thermal conductivity of fibrous GDLs is developed. The model accounts for conduction in both the solid fibrous matrix and in the gas phase; the spreading resistance associated with the contact area between overlapping fibers; gas rarefaction effects in microgaps; and salient geometric and mechanical features including fiber orientation and compressive forces due to cell/stack clamping. The model predictions are in good agreement with existing experimental data over a wide range of porosities. Parametric studies are performed using the proposed model to investigate the effect of bipolar plate pressure, aspect ratio, fiber diameter, fiber angle, and operating temperature. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.