Fuel cell performances vary with different structural configurations and materials. However, the two main areas that determine this performance metric are the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and the bipolar plates. The MEA provides the platform for the electrochemical reaction to occur and the bipolar plate serves as a medium between the reactants (hydrogen and air) and the catalyst layer. The bipolar plate is the first point of contact for the reactants inside the fuel cell, so a badly designed item with a high pressure drop will have a negative impact on fuel cell performance. Numerical modelling and simulation tools like ANSYS have a huge impact on engineering industry as they help designs to be validated and analysed before any physical construction. This investigation considers five suitable flow plate designs for PEM fuel cell, each completely different from the readily available, traditional serpentine designs on the market. The work explored the possibility of replacing these flow channels with an aluminium cellular foam with different inlet and outlet orientations. The designs were further optimised and modelled in ANSYS. The results obtained were compared with other designs in the literature. Compared to the serpentine flow design, the open pore cellular foam material showed a very small pressure drop in the range of 30–40 Pa. This indicates a possibility of replacing the traditional flow plate designs with the proposed ones.
- Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
- Design of Experiment (DOE)
- Fuel cell