In the frame of advanced H2 solutions for the energy transition, the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is a relevant solution for the production of low-carbon electrical energy. The European Project DECODE proposes to develop a fully digital chain of design tools, including raw material properties, manufacturing and assembly of the different components, to predict the performance of such ‘virtual’ stack. This will help reducing the development cost and time of improved materials/components suitable for different applications in the future.
The component considered in this thesis is the Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL), which is a combination of a fibrous microporous substrate and of a micro/nano porous layer (MPL for microporous layer). The work will be split into different steps: a) based on (real or virtual) 3D images of the substrate, simulation of the hydrophobic and MPL coating and drying to derive the 3D distribution of the components (fibers, hydrophobicity and MPL); b) simulation of single and two-phase transport properties of the GDL to supply inputs to upper scale performance models; c) sensitivity analysis of the main manufacturing processes (ink properties, drying parameters…)