Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1959–1968 | Cite as

Wettability characterization of pore networks of gas diffusion layers in proton exchange membrane fuel cells

  • Yongtaek Lee


Both the structure of the pores in a Gas diffusion layer (GDL), and the interactive characteristics between water and the carbon fibers which compose the GDL are very important in understanding transport phenomena in Proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), especially water transport, distribution and management. Wettability of pore network as well as its structure is the major factor which determines the relation between water or air saturation and capillary pressure of the micro-scale pore network. In this study, the impregnation characteristics of TGPH-120 with 30 wt.% of PTFE as a function of time were investigated at different temperature to determine the effect of water condensation in the pore network. In succession, using the Method of standard porosimetry (MSP), various porometric characteristics are suggested. The proportion of saturated pore volume with water to the total pore volume is represented for the GDL impregnated at different temperatures. The contact angle of water on the hydrophilic pores whose size is in charge of a majority of the pore volume was estimated from 35° to 53°. The relation of capillary pressure with saturation was also measured for each condition. The air saturation increased slower with increasing capillary pressure when water was used as the working liquid than when octane was used because of the mixed wettability of the pore networks in the GDL.


Capillary pressure Contact angle Gas diffusion layer Porosimetry Proton exchange membrane fuel cell Wettability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    J. Gostick, Multiphase mass transfer and capillary properties of gas diffusion layers for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, Ph.D. Thesis (2008).Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    E. Antolini, A. Pozio, L. Giorgi and E. Passalacqua, Morphological characteristics of carbon/polytetrafluoroethylene films deposited on porous carbon support, J. Mater. Sci., 33 (1998) 1837–1843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    C. S. Kong, D. Y. Kim, H. K. Lee, Y. G. Shul and T. H. Lee, Influence of pore-size distribution of diffusion layer on mass-transport problems of proton exchange membrane fuel cells, J. Power Sources, 108 (2002) 185–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    H. K. Lee, J. H. Park, D. Y. Kim and T. H. Lee, A study on the characteristics of the diffusion layer thickness and porosity of the PEMFC, J. Power Sources, 131 (2004) 200–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    C. Lee and W. Merida, Gas diffusion layer durability under steady-state and freezing conditions, J. Power Sources, 164 (2007) 141–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    Y. M. Vol’fkovich, V. E. Sosenkin, N. F. Nikol’skaya and T. L. Kulova, Porous structure and hydrophilic-hydrophobic properties of gas diffusion layer of the electrodes in protonexchange membrane fuel cells, Russ. J. Electrochem., 44 (2008) 278–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Y. M. Volfkovich and V. S. Bagotzky, The method of standard porosimetry 1. Principles and possibilities, J. Power Sources, 48 (1994) 327–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [8]
    Y. M. Volfkovich and V. S. Bagotzky, The method of standard porosimetry 2. Investigation of the formation of porous structures, J. Power Sources, 48 (1994) 339–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [9]
    Y. M. Volfkovich, V. S. Bagotzky, V. E. Sosenkin and I. A. Blinov, The standard contact porosimetry, Colloids Surf. A, 187-188 (2001) 349–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    J. T. Gostick, M. W. Fowler, M. A. Ioannidis, M. D. Pritzker, Y. M. Volfkovich and A. Sakars, Capillary pressure and hydrophilic porosity in gas diffusion layers for polymer electrolyte fuel cells, J. Power Sources, 156 (2006) 375–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. [11]
    N. W. Lee, Y. S. Kim, M. Kim and M. S. Kim, Numerical analysis on the effect of voltage change on removing condensed water inside the GDL of a PEM fuel cell, J. of Mechanical Science and Technology, 30 (2016) 4383–4390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    E. C. Kumber, K. V. Sharp and M. M. Mench, Validated leverett approach for multiphase flow in PEFC diffusion media I. Hydrophobicity effect, J. Electrochem. Soc., 154 (2007) B1295–B1304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    E. C. Kumber, K. V. Sharp and M. M. Mench, Validated leverett approach for multiphase flow in PEFC diffusion media II. Compression effect, J. Electrochem. Soc., 154 (2007) B1305–B1314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [14]
    E. C. Kumber, K. V. Sharp and M. M. Mench, Validated leverett approach for multiphase flow in PEFC diffusion media III. Temperature effect and unified approach, J. Electrochem. Soc., 154 (2007) B1315–B1324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. [15]
    Y. Lee, Y. Kim and X. Li, Degradation of gas diffusion layers through repetitive freezing, Appl. Energy, 88 (2011) 5111–5119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. [16]
    P. Concus and R. Finn, On the behavior of a capillary surface in a wedge, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 63 (1969) 292–299.CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  17. [17]
    F. Y. Zhang, X. G. Yang and C. Y. Wang, Liquid water removal from a polymer electrolyte fuel cell, J. Electrochem. Soc., 153 (2006) A225–A232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. [18]
    Y. Lee, B. Kim, Y. Kim and X. Li, Effects of a microporous layer on the performance degradation of proton exchange membrane fuel cells through repetitive freezing, J. Power Sources, 196 (2011) 1940–1947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. [19]
    I. Morcos, Surface tension of stress-annealed pyrolytic graphite, J. Chem. Phys., 57 (1972) 1801–1802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. [20]
    F. M. Fowkes and W. D. Harkins, The state of monolayers adsorbed at the interface solid-aqueous solution, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 62 (1940) 3377–3386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. [21]
    D. L. Wood, C. Rulison and R. L. Borup, Surface properties of PEMFC gas diffusion layers, J. Electrochem. Soc., 157 (2010) B195–B206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. [22]
    M. E. Schrader, Ultrahigh-vacuum techniques in the measurement of contact angles. 5. LEED study of the effect of structure on the wettability of graphite, J. Phys. Chem., 84 (1980) 2774–2779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. [23]
    A. Z. Weber and J. Newman, Effects of microporous layer in polymer electrolyte fuel cells, J. Electrochem. Soc., 152 (2005) A677–A688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Korean Society of Mechanical Engineers and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringHannam UniversityDaejeonKorea

Personalised recommendations