Mihir M. Shah


A Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is a clean and highly efficient way of power generation used primarily for transportation applications. Hydrogen and air are supplied to the fuel cell through gas channels, which also remove liquid water generated in the fuel cell. The clogged channels prevent reactant transport to the electrochemically active sites which comprise one of the channel walls and thus, degrading the performance of the cell. Proper management of the product water is a current topic of research interest in commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. Liquid water, produced as by-product of the fuel cell reaction, can clog the gas channels easily since surface tension of water is significant at this length scale. In a PEMFC channel cross-section, water is assumed to be produced in the channel at the center along the flow axis. This assumption is primarily valid and extensively used for experimental purposes. However in a real PEMFC, the water entry is not constrained at the channel center. Hence, more investigations are made using water entry at channel corner (land region) which resulted in contradicting prior results for the water feature behavior for all relevant PEMFC operating conditions, leading to adverse two-phase flow behavior- including slug blockage and fluctuations at channel end. Very limited research is available to study the effect of gas channel surface modifications on the two-phase flow behavior and local PEMFC performance. In this study, the droplet-sidewall dynamic interactions and two-phase local pressure drop across the water droplet present in a PEMFC channel with trapezoidal geometries with surface modifications are studied. These surface modifications include micro-grooves that possess a hybrid wetting regime that will initiate and guide the water feature at channel ends to eject with general ease. Slugs are reduced to films after ejection and thus channel blockage is avoided overcoming the problems caused by water influx at channel corner or under the land.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Fluid-structure interaction; Proton exchange membrane fuel cells--Mechanical properties; Two-phase flow

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Satish G. Kandlikar

Advisor/Committee Member

Robert Stevens

Advisor/Committee Member

Jason R. Kolodziej


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TA357.5.F58 S43 2014


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes