Study of PEM Fuel Cell End Plate Design by Structural Analysis Based on Contact Pressure
Ghosh, Prakash C.
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A fuel cell stack is configured to power any load ranging from watts to megawatt by varying cells connected in series. During stack assembly, major emphasis must be placed on application of adequate external pressure for reducing the ohmic losses, the purpose of which is to achieve proper contact between the cell components and minimize the contact resistance. Present work aims to study the influence of geometry of the cell, bolt configuration, gasket thickness mismatch, and material properties of different components of average and distribution contact pressure. The geometries are evaluated for end plate designs with a view to understand the pressure distribution and contact resistance in each case. Among different designs, extruded hexagon is found to perform well with an average contact pressure of 0.13 MPa and contact resistance of 28 Ω-cm2. Greater gasket thickness requires higher forces to be applied before the GDL makes contact with BPP. The effect of gasket thickness mismatch is evaluated for different values to identify its appropriate value. The pressure is applied using bolts and position and number of bolts is determined for homogeneous contact pressure on the active area. This study provides a framework for future end plate design of fuel cells.