Jeff Allen
National Center for Microgravity Research
NASA Glenn Research Center

Loren Sumner
School of Engineering
Mercer University

Monday, April 28, 2003, 3pm
Willet Science Center 101

"Water Management in PEM Fuel Cells 
Potential-Scholarship Discussion

Abstract:  Fuel cells are receiving tremendous attention in the science and engineering community as a potential alternative to petroleum based power sources.  Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells consist of a cathode and an anode sandwiching an electrolyte membrane, and maintain a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen to produce water, heat, and electricity.  Dehydration of the membrane may result in degraded performance and possibly catastrophic failure.  On the other hand, liquid-water saturation of the membrane or destabilization of liquid films may result in a deprivation of oxygen to the reaction.  Understanding the fluid physics in the small, complex, manifolding passages of fuels cells is essential to the development of reliable, low temperature fuel cells both on Earth and in space-based application.  An overview of PEM-fuel-cell operation and water management issues will be presented followed by a brief description of experimental research at Glenn Research Center on two-phase microfluidic flow in complex geometries.  The current state of some theoretical efforts considering the stability of such a flow will also be presented leading to a discussion of potential scholarship collaborations.  Areas of interest for undergraduate and faculty research include:  1) physics - optics, microscopy, experimentation, 2) chemistry - water production studies, chemically reacting flows, 3) applied mathematics - dynamics, linear systems, asymptotics, 4) engineering - computational fluid dynamics, experimentation, fluid mechanics. 

Please join us for light refreshments outside WSC 109 at 2:45.

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