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Development of an experimentally validated semi-empirical fully-coupled performance model of a PEM electrolysis cell with a 3-D structured porous transport layer

: Tabu Ojong, E.; Kwan, J.T.H.; Nouri-Khorasani, A.; Bonakdarpour, A.; Wilkinson, D.P.; Smolinka, T.


International journal of hydrogen energy 42 (2017), No.41, pp.25831-25847
ISSN: 0360-3199
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISE ()
Energietechnik; Wasserstofftechnologie; Wasserstofferzeugung durch Elektrolyse; water electrolysis; porous transport layer; mass transport losses; multi-physical modelling

A semi-empirical non-isothermal model incorporating coupled momentum, heat and mass transport phenomena for predicting the performance of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysis cell operating without flow channels is presented. Model input parameters such as electro-kinetics properties and mean pore size of the porous transport layer (PTL) were determined by rotating disc electrode and capillary flow porometry, respectively. This is the first report of a semi-empirical fully coupled model which allows one to quantify and investigate the effect of the gas phase and bubble coverage on PEM cell performance up to very high current densities of about 5 A/cm2. The mass transport effects are discussed in terms of the operating conditions, design parameters and the microstructure of the PTL. The results show that, the operating temperature and pressure, and the inlet water flowrate and thickness of the PTL are the critical parameters for mitigating mass transport l imitation at high current densities. The model presented here can serve as a tool for further development and scale-up effort in the area of PEM water electrolysis, and provide insight during the design stage.