Effects of GDL structurewith an efficient approach to themanagement of liquid water in PEM fuel cells

Erin E. Kimball, Jay B. Benziger, Yannis G. Kevrekidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A model fuel cell with a single transparent straight flow channel and segmented anode was constructed to measure the direct correlation of liquid water movement with the local currents along the flow channel. Water drops emerge through the largest pores of the GDL with the size of the droplets that emerge on the surface determined by the size of the pore and its location under the gas flow channel or under the land. Gravity, surface tension, and the shearing force from the gas flow control the movement of liquid in the gas flow channel. By creating a single large diameter pore in the GDL, liquid water flow emergent from the GDL was forced to be in specific locations along the length of the channel and either under the land or under the channel. The effects of gravity were amplified when the large pore was under the channel, but diminished with the large pore under the land. Current fluctuations were minimised when the dominant water transport from the GDL pore was near the cathode outlet. The results show that it is possible to engineer the water distribution in PEM fuel cells by modifying the pore sizes in the GDL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-544
Number of pages15
JournalFuel Cells
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


  • GDL
  • MEA
  • Model Fuel Cell
  • PEM Fuel Cells
  • Water Management


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