Volume 43: Energy Transitions toward Carbon Neutrality: Part VI

Modelling of membrane swelling-shrinking induced mechanical degradation of the Low-Temperature PEMFC Akshaykumar N. Desai, Surajeet Mohanty, Venkatasailanathan Ramadesigan, Suneet Singh



Low-temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells (LT-PEMFCs) have emerged as a clean energy solution in the transportation sector and the backup power generator in the deep space mission. Under aggressive cell operating conditions, the likelihood of mechanical failure in the membrane is high, which eventually generates cracks and pinholes, leading to a gas crossover and catastrophic failure. In this work, a physics-based model of the LT-PEMFC is developed using COMSOL Multiphysics to study the effects of clamping pressure, humidity conditions, and temperatures on cell deformation. The physics-based model is validated with the experiments performed on 32 cm2 LT-PEMFC with the hybrid flow configuration at 75 °C and 80% RH. The results show that the membrane under the channel experiences cyclic swelling and shrinking than the rib because of the lower compression and higher humidity, thereby accelerating the degradation. By developing a deeper comprehension of these degradation processes, we aim to enhance the durability of LT-PEMFCs through optimized cell design, and operating conditions.

Keywords Low-temperature PEMFC, membrane swelling-shrinking, mechanical degradation, COMSOL Multiphysics, Physics-based model

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