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Title: Improvement of electrocatalyst performance in hydrogen fuel cells by multiscale modelling
Author: Marthosa, Sutida
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 6638
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The work in this thesis addresses the improvement of electrocatalyst performance in hydrogen PEM fuel cells. An agglomerate model for a catalyst layer was coupled with a one dimensional macroscale model in order to investigate the fuel cell performance. The model focuses on the agglomerate scale and the characteristic length in this study was 0.4 µm. The model was validated successfully with the experimental data. Based on the analysis of variance method at a 99% confidence level, the variation in the average fuel cell voltage was significantly sensitive to that in the volume fraction of electrolyte in an agglomerate. The effect of changing electrolyte film thickness was observed to have a significant impact only in the mass transport limited region, whereas the effect of changing agglomerate radius was found over the entire range of current density. An analysis comparing the effect of agglomerate shape at a constant platinum loading, a constant characteristic length and assuming the semi-finite structure was suitable for this study. Sphere, cylinder and slab agglomerate geometries were considered. The behaviour of the utilisation effectiveness was discovered to be strongly affected by the agglomerate shape. The improvement in the utilisation effectiveness was non-linear with current density. The advantage of the slab geometry in distributing reactant through the agglomerate volume was reduced and consequently the increase in utilisation effectiveness for slab-like agglomerates diminishes in the high current density region. At 0.85 Acm−2, the maximum improvement of the catalyst utilisation effectiveness in slab was 27.8% based on the performance in sphere. The improvement in fuel cell maximum power density achieved using slab-like agglomerate was limited to around 3%. The improvement in the overall fuel cell performance by changing the agglomerate shape was not significant. To achieve significant improvements in fuel cell performance will require changes to other features of the catalyst layer.
Supervisor: Roberts, Ted. Sponsor: Royal Thai Government
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PEM fuel cell ; fuel cell modelling ; agglomerate model ; electrocatalyst