Resolving Anodic Current and Temperature Distributions in a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Water Electrolysis Cell Using a Pseudo-Two-Phase Computational Fluid Dynamics Model

Guido Bender, J. Lopata, Zhenye Kang, James Young, J. Weidner, H-S. Cho, S. Shimpalee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Expanding upon our prior experimental work, we constructed a three-dimensional model of a polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolyzer using computational fluid dynamics. We applied the assumption of pseudo-two-phase flow, the flow of two phases with equal velocity. Experimental data were used to obtain parameters and to determine the conditions under which this model was valid. Anodic distributions of current density, temperature, liquid saturation, and relative humidity were obtained at various flow rates. The overall current density and temperature difference from inlet to outlet at the anode agreed strongly with experimental measurements under most circumstances. This verification allowed us to further examine the apparent gas coverage calculated from experimental and model temperature data. Results suggested a low liquid saturation and low relative humidity at the anode due to the consumption of liquid water and water vapor. However, we questioned the accuracy of the pseudo-two-phase assumption at low water feed rates. We concluded that the model was applicable to systems with liquid water feed rates greater than 0.6 ml min-1 cm-2. Therefore, it is a fair screening method that can advise which operating conditions lead to excessive temperatures or drying at the anode, thereby promoting the longevity of the membrane and catalyst.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number054518
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Volume168
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published on behalf of The Electrochemical Society by IOP Publishing Limited.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-78733

Keywords

  • computational fluid dynamics
  • electrolysis
  • polymer electrolyte
  • three-dimensional
  • two-phase

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