A Lattice Boltzmann Method for Predicting Porous Transport Layer Performance During Electrolysis

Research output: NRELPresentation


Electrolysis, the splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen using electricity, is a sustainable way to produce green hydrogen for energy storage. In polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) water electrolysis, water is brought into contact with charged catalyst layers and electrochemically separated into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen product formed at the cathode is carried through the catalyst layer for eventual collection, while the oxygen by-product formed at the anode is removed from the surface via a multiphase interaction with circulating water and a solid porous transport layer (PTL). The design of this PTL aids in the detachment and advection of the oxygen by-product and thereby plays a role in the overall efficacy of the catalyst. In this presentation, we present our initial results modeling this multiphase system using a single-component, multiphase lattice Boltzmann method. We use the Shan-Chen model describing inter-particle forces to capture both the cohesion of the water (liquid) and oxygen (gas) phases and their interaction with the PTL (solid) (Shan and Chen, 1993). We use a Carnahan-Starling equation of state to model the effective density governing these inter-particle interactions which allows us to model this relatively high density ratio system (Carnahan and Starling, 1969). With these simulations, we show that the geometry and heterogeneity of the PTL geometry plays a large role in its ability to move oxygen away from the catalyst layer and the resulting bubble structures that are formed within the PTL. The current work demonstrates these effects using synthesized PTL geometries and 2D physics, which will be extended to experimentally-imaged PTL sections and 3D algorithms in the near future.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Multiphase Flow Science Workshop, 1-2 August 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2C00-87111


  • Boltzmann
  • electrolysis
  • hydrogen
  • lattice
  • multiphase
  • porous
  • transport


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