Thermo-Mechanical Response of Fuel Cell Electrodes: Constitutive Model and Application in Studying the Structural Response of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell

Authors

  • K. K. Poornesh,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-Gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea
    • Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-Gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea
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  • Y. Xiao,

    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-Gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea
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  • C. Cho

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-Gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea
    • Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-Gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea
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Abstract

The characterization of the mechanical properties of fuel cell electrodes through the experimental techniques is a complex task due to the low thickness, constituents' heterogeneous composition, and fragile nature of the film. We present a preliminary investigation on the thermomechanical response of fuel cell catalyst layer (CL) obtained through the numerical experiment. Since the Nafion ionomer is one of the constituents' of the CL, a modified micromechanically motivated viscoplastic model is adopted to characterize the Nafion ionomer in terms of reduced density factor to account for the void content. The catalyst agglomerates are taken as inclusions in the ionomer matrix to form a composite unit which is used to plot the true stress–true strain response. Practicality of this work is tested by implementing the electrode layer as a separate component in the single fuel cell unit cell model. A remarkable difference in the magnitude of stress levels in the membrane is observed under thermal and hydrated conditions with the presence and absence of electrode layer in the simulation domain. The present work will assist in improved understanding of the localized stress distribution in the membrane, which is essential to understand its mechanical endurance.

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