Visualisation of water accumulation in the flow channels of PEMFC under various operating conditions
The accumulation of water in the cathode/anode serpentine flow channels of a transparent PEMFC has been investigated by direct visualisation where water droplets and slugs formed in these channels were quantified over a range of operating conditions. Four operating parameters concerning air stoichiometry, hydrogen stoichiometry, cell temperature, and electric load were examined to evaluate their effects on the formation and extraction of water from the flow channels. The results showed that hydrogen and air stoichiometry contribute almost equally to the water formation process in the cathode channels. However, their effects on the water extraction from the channels were quite different. Air stoichiometry proved capable of extracting all the water from the cathode channels, without causing membrane dehydration, contrary to hydrogen. Increasing the operating temperature of the cell was found to be very effective for the water extraction process; a temperature of 60 °C was sufficient to evaporate all the water in the channels as well as enhancing the fuel cell current. The electric load was strongly associated to the water formation in the channels but had no influence on water extraction. Finally, no water was present in the anode flow channels under all examined operating conditions.