- 1:45 PM

Magnetic Resonance Imaging as a Diagnostic Tool for Fuel Cell Water Management

Zachary Dunbar, Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 600 S Mathews, Urbana, IL 61801 and Rich Masel, Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 600 South Mathews, Room 204, Urbana, IL 61801.

Water management remains a significant challenge for the commercialization of PEM fuel cells. Many mathematical models have been created to gain insight into the effects of water distribution on cell performance. However, model verification remains difficult due to the challenging nature of acquiring relevant experimental data about water generation and movement inside an operating fuel cell.

In this work, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is demonstrated as a strong diagnostic tool to gather information about water generation and transport inside an operating PEM fuel cell. The MRI technique is used to gather quantitative water distribution data in three dimensions. Acquisition times are as fast as 8 seconds, allowing observation of dynamic processes within the flow channels. Flow channel depth and geometry are varied, and the effect on water distribution and overall cell performance measured.

The MRI technique is shown to be a strong diagnostic tool for fuel cell researchers, due to its fast, quantitative and 3-dimensional spatial data acquisition properties.