Flow-Field Designs of Bipolar Plates in PEM Fuel Cells: Theory and Applications



A generalized model developed by Wang was modified for flow field designs of the most common layout configurations with U-type arrangement, including single serpentine, multiple serpentine, straight parallel, and interdigitated configurations. A direct and quantitative relationship was established among flow distribution, pressure drop, configurations, structures, and flow conditions. The model was used for a direct, systematic, and quantitative comparison of flow distributions and pressure drops among the most common layout configurations of interest. The straight parallel configuration had the lowest pressure drops but suffered the most possibility of the uneven flow distribution across the channels. The single serpentine had the best flow distribution but had the highest pressure drops. The flow distribution and the pressure drop in the multiple serpentine was between the straight parallel and the single serpentine. Finally, we suggested basic criteria of the flow field designs of bipolar plates for the industrial applications. This provides a practical guideline to evaluate how far a fuel cell is from design operating conditions, and measures how to improve flow distribution and pressure drop.