• Vol 10, No 3 (2019)
  • Chemical Engineering

Effect of Operating Conditions on the Liquid Water Content Flowing Out of the Cathode Side and the Stability of PEM Fuel Cell Performance

Mulyazmi , Wan R.W. Daud, Elly D. Rahman, Purwantika , Putri A. Mulya, Nia G. Sari

Corresponding email: mulyazmi@yahoo.com


Cite this article as:
Mulyazmi., Daud, W.R., Rahman, E.D., Purwantika., Mulya, P.A., Sari, N.G., 2019. Effect of Operating Conditions on the Liquid Water Content Flowing Out of the Cathode Side and the Stability of PEM Fuel Cell Performance. International Journal of Technology. Volume 10(3), pp. 634-643
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Mulyazmi Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bung Hatta Padang, Padang, West Sumatera 25586, Indonesia
Wan R.W. Daud Fuel Cell Institute, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor, Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Elly D. Rahman Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bung Hatta Padang, Padang, West Sumatera 25586, Indonesia
Purwantika Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bung Hatta Padang, Padang, West Sumatera 25586, Indonesia
Putri A. Mulya Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bung Hatta Padang, Padang, West Sumatera 25586, Indonesia
Nia G. Sari Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bung Hatta Padang, Padang, West Sumatera 25586, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Abstract
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Management of the water in the stack is a major problem in achieving optimal performance of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. One of the problems caused by water imbalance in the PEM system is the formation of liquid water on the side of the cathode. High water content in the PEM fuel cell stack causes liquid water and flooding, and decreases its performance. The presence of liquid water on the cathode side of the fuel cell leads to a decrease in the amount of oxygen reacting in the catalyst layer. The results of this study indicate that a general increase in water content results in a decrease in the performance of PEM fuel cell systems.  The highest water content occurs at a current density of 0.9, with Rha and RHc of 90%. In this condition, system performance is relatively stable at 0.67 volts, with 0.00016 gr/cm2 of liquid water content produced. Above this water content, system performance decreases significantly.

Liquid water; Performance; Proton exchange membrane; Relative humidity

Introduction

Development of the design system process to improve the performance of PEM systems is currently still being undertaken. The aim is to obtain good fuel cell stack durability and high system efficiency (Kaluža et al., 2015). A single cell PEM fuel cell in the form of an Electrolyte Membrane Assembly (MEA) is arranged like a sandwich between two bipolar plates. The MEA consists of two electrodes; the anode and cathode are separated by a proton conducting membrane. In the anodic membrane interface, hydrogen is oxidized and the resulting protons are transported through the membrane. In the cathode interface, oxygen is reduced and then produces water, which flows out through the gas flow channel. Systems on stack PEM fuel cells are formed and arranged from many single cells that create a balanced operating system.

The balance of the amount of water content in the system is one of the most important factors that always needs to be controlled in the PEM fuel cell. The purpose is to ensure the membranes in the stack are always hydrated. The membrane system on the stack fuel cell will be dry and cracked if the water content is very low. Furthermore, if the water content is too high in the fuel cell system, condensation and flooding will occur on the cathode side (Falcão et al., 2009). Situations related to the transfer of water content in the system are include electro-osmotic drag (EOD) from the anode to the cathode side; diffusion of water back from the cathode to the anode side; and a process of liquid water formation on the anode and cathode side (Kraytsberg & Ein-Eli, 2006).

EOD is the transport of protons together with water molecules passing through the membrane from the anode to the cathode side in the stack fuel cell. Water that migrates with protons will join with the water generated by electrochemical reaction and accumulate on the cathode side. Back diffusion in the fuel cell system occurs if there is a gradient between the amounts of water from the anode to the cathode side. The presence of water in PEM fuel cells has good and bad effects. On one side of the water needed to ensure good conductivity of the membrane proton, but the other side of the water can block the flow of reactants moving to the surface of the catalyst to react. If the proton exchange membrane is dry, protons cannot migrate, so ionic conductivity is low (Guvelioglu & Stenger, 2007). Another influence is blocking of the access of protons to the catalyst surface (Liu et al., 2006a; Liu et al., 2006b). Although flooding can occur on both sides of the electrode (anode and cathode) fuel cell system, floods that occur at the cathode can have a serious effect, because the oxygen

Conclusion

Water management in PEMFC system operation is one of the important factors in avoiding reduced performance and improving cell resilience. This research shows that optimal liquid water content flowing out from the cathode side of the PEM fuel cell system occurs at 90% Rha and Rhc and with current density at 0.9 mA/cm2. The performance of the system decreases significantly at 75% Rhc if the liquid water content flowing out of the side of the cathode is above 0.00013 gr/cm2. Conversely, if the liquid water is below 0.00013 gr/cm2 system performance is relatively stable at 0.7 volts.

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank the University of Bung Hatta (UBH) and Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia for supporting the project through a Penelitian Dasar Unggulan Perguruan Tinggi (PDUPT) 2018 research grant Pendidikan Tinggi No: 114/SP2H/LH/DPRM/2018 with contract No. 001/K10/KM/Kontrak-penelitian/2018.

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