Impact of carbon paper structural parameters on the performance of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell cathode via lattice Boltzmann method

  • M. Nazemian
  • G. R. MolaeimaneshEmail author
Research Paper


Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) being employed in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are promising power generators producing electric power from fuel stream via porous electrodes. Structure of carbon paper gas diffusion layers (GDLs) applying in the porous electrodes can greatly affect the PEFC performance, especially at the cathode side where electrochemical reaction is more sluggish. To discover the role of carbon paper GDL structure on the mass transfer properties, different cathode electrodes with dissimilar structural parameters are simulated via lattice Boltzmann method (LBM). 3D contours of oxygen and water vapor concentration through the GDL as well as the 2D contours of current density on the catalyst layer are illustrated and examined. The results indicate that the carbon fiber diameter has a negligible impact on the current density while the impact of carbon paper thickness and porosity is significant. In fact, increasing of carbon paper thickness or porosity leads to lack of cell performance.


Polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) Lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) Microstructure reconstruction Carbon paper Mass transfer properties 

List of symbols



Roughness factor


Velocity of particle in the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) (lu·ts−1, lu and ts denote the units of length and time in LBM, respectively)


Speed of sound in the LBM (lu·ts−1)


Carbon fiber diameter (μm)


Faraday constant (A·s·mol−1)


Density distribution function in the LBM


Current density (A·cm−2)


Directional density function (Eq. (1))


Universal gas constant (J·mol−1·K−1)


Space position


Temperature (K)


Time (ts); also gas diffusion layer (GDL) thickness (μm)


Fluid velocity vector


Weighting factor in LBM

Greek symbols


Anisotropy parameter


Activation over-voltage


GDL porosity




Density of chemical species in LBM (lm·lu−3)


GDL electrical conductivity (Ω−1·cm−1)


Relaxation time (ts)



Subscripts and superscripts




ith direction in LBM




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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Laboratory of Automotive Fluids and Structures Analysis, Automotive Engineering SchoolIran University of Science and TechnologyTehranIran

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