Thermal transport in porous media with application to fuel cell diffusion media and metal foams

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dc.contributor.author Sadeghi, Ehsan
dc.date.accessioned 2011-10-19T15:11:19Z
dc.date.available 2011-10-19T15:11:19Z
dc.date.copyright 2010 en_US
dc.date.issued 2011-10-19
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/3628
dc.description.abstract Transport phenomena in high porosity open-cell fibrous structures have been the focus of many recent industrial and academic investigations. Unique features of these structures such as relatively low cost, ultra-low density, high surface area to volume ratio, and the ability to mix the passing fluid make them excellent candidates for a variety of thermofluid applications including fuel cells, compact heat exchangers and cooling of microelectronics. This thesis contributes to improved understanding of thermal transport phenomena in fuel cell gas diffusion layers (GDLs) and metal foams and describes new experimental techniques and analytic models to characterize and predict effective transport properties. Heat transfer through the GDL is a key process in the design and operation of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The analysis of this process requires determination of the effective thermal conductivity as well as the thermal contact resistance (TCR) associated with the interface between the GDL and adjacent surfaces/ layers. The effective thermal conductivity significantly differs in through-plane and in-plane directions due to anisotropy of the GDL micro-structure. Also, the high porosity of GDLs makes the contribution of TCR against the heat flow through the medium more pronounced. A test bed was designed and built to measure the thermal contact resistance and effective thermal conductivity in both through-plane and in-plane directions under vacuum and ambient conditions. The developed experimental program allows the separation of effective thermal conductivity and thermal contact resistance. For GDLs, measurements are performed under a wide range of compressive loads using Toray carbon paper samples. To study the effect of cyclic compression, which may happen during the operation of a fuel cell stack, measurements are performed on the thermal and structural properties of GDL at different loading-unloading cycles. The static compression measurements are complemented by a compact analytical model that achieves good agreement with experimental data. The outcomes of the cyclic compression measurements show a significant hysteresis in the loading and unloading cycle data for total thermal resistance, TCR, effective thermal conductivity, thickness, and porosity. It is found that after 5 loading/unloading cycles, the geometrical, mechanical, and thermal parameters reach a“steady-state”condition and remain unchanged. A key finding of this study is that the TCR is the dominant component of the GDL total thermal resistance with a significant hysteresis resulting in up to a 34 % difference between the loading and unloading cycle data. Neglecting this phenomenon may result in significant errors in evaluating heat transfer rates and temperature distributions. In-plane thermal experiments were performed using Toray carbon paper samples with different polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) content at the mean temperature of 65−70◦C. The measurements are complemented by a compact analytical model that achieves good agreement with experimental data. Results show that the in-plane effective thermal conductivity remains approximately constant, k ≈ 17.5W/mK, over a wide range of PTFE content, and it is approximately 12 times higher than the through-plane conductivity. Using the test bed designed for the through-plane thermal conductivity measurement, the effective thermal conductivity and thermal contact resistance of ERG Duocel aluminum foam samples were measured under varying compressive loads for a variety of porosities and pore densities. Also, an experimental program associated with an image analysis technique is developed to find the size and distribution of contact spots at different compressive loads. Results show that the porosity and the effective thermal conductivity remain unchanged with the variation of pressure in the range of 0 to 2 MPa; but TCR decreases significantly with pressure due to an increase in contact area. Moreover, the ratio of contact area to cross-sectional area is 0-0.013, depending upon the compressive force, porosity, and pore density. This study clarifies the impact of compression on the thermal and structural properties of GDLs and metal foams and provides new insights on the importance of TCR which is a critical interfacial transport phenomenon. en_US
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject fuel cells en_US
dc.subject GDL en_US
dc.subject thermal en_US
dc.title Thermal transport in porous media with application to fuel cell diffusion media and metal foams en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Djilali, Nedjib
dc.contributor.supervisor Bahrami, Majid
dc.degree.department Dept. of Mechanical Engineering en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en_US
dc.rights.temp Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US

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