Papers presented to the 11th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, South Africa, 20-23 July 2015.
Water management in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC’s) remains a critical problem for their durability, cost, and performance. Because the anode side of this fuel cell has the tendency to become dehydrated, measuring the water balance can be an important diagnosis tool during fuel cell operation. The water balance indicates how much of the product water leaves at the anode side versus the cathode side. Previous methods of determining the fuel cell water balance often relied on condensing the water in the exhaust gas streams and weighing the accumulated mass which is a time consuming process that has limited accuracy. Currently, our group is developing a novel method to accurately determine the water balance in a PEMFC in real time by employing hot-wire anemometry. The amount of heat transferred from the wire to the anode exhaust stream can be translated into a voltage signal which can be directly converted into the fuel cell water balance. In this work, experimental ex-situ results are presented and the elegance and usefulness of this method is demonstrated.