The gas diffusion layer (GDL) is a thin porous layer sandwiched between a bipolar plate (BPP) and a catalyst coated membrane in a fuel cell. Besides providing passage for water and gas transport from and to the catalyst layer, it is responsible for electron and heat transfer from and to the BPP. In this paper, a method has been developed to measure the GDL bulk thermal conductivity and the contact resistance at the GDL/BPP interface under inhomogeneous compression occurring in an actual fuel cell assembly. Toray carbon paper GDL TGP-H-060 was tested under a range of compression pressure of 0.34 to 1.71 MPa. The results showed that the thermal contact resistance decreases non-linearly (from 3.8 × 10−4 to 1.17 × 10−4 Km2 W−1) with increasing pressure due to increase in microscopic contact area between the GDL and BPP; while the effective bulk thermal conductivity increases (from 0.56 to 1.42 Wm−1 K−1) with increasing the compression pressure. The thermal contact resistance was found to be greater (by a factor of 1.6–2.8) than the effective bulk thermal resistance for all compression pressure ranges applied here. This measurement technique can be used to identify optimum GDL based on minimum bulk and contact resistances measured under inhomogeneous compression.
Journal of Power Sources – Elsevier
Published: Jul 15, 2016
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