Numerical investigation of the performance of symmetric flow distributors as flow channels for PEM fuel cells

Bladimir Ramos-Alvarado, Abel Hernandez-Guerrero, Daniel Juarez-Robles, Peiwen Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


This work reports on the performance of a single PEM fuel cell using symmetric flow patterns as gas delivery channels. Three flow patterns, two symmetric and one serpentine, are taken from the literature on cooling of electronics and they are implemented in a computational model as gas flow channels in the anode and cathode side of a PEMFC. A commercial CFD code was used to solve the physics involved in a fuel cell namely: the flow field, the mass conservation, the energy conservation, the species transport, and the electric/ionic fields under the assumptions of steady state and single phase. An important feature of the current modeling efforts is the analysis of the main irreversibilities at different current densities showing the main energy dissipation phenomena in each cell design. Also, the hydraulic performance of the flow patterns was studied by evaluating the pressure drop and pumping power. The first part of this work reveals the advantages of using a serpentine pattern over the base symmetric distributors. The second part is an optimization of the symmetric patterns using the entropy minimization criteria. Such an optimization led to the creation of a flow structure that promotes an improved performance from the point of view of power generation, uniformity of current density, and low pumping power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • CFD
  • Flow pattern
  • Fuel cell
  • Gas channels
  • PEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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