Modeling the Effect of Channel Tapering on the Pressure Drop and Flow Distribution Characteristics of Interdigitated Flow Fields in Redox Flow Batteries Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2020

start page

  • 775


  • 7


  • 8

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2227-9717


  • Optimization of flow fields in redox flow batteries can increase performance and efficiency, while reducing cost. Therefore, there is a need to establish a fundamental understanding on the connection between flow fields, electrolyte flow management and electrode properties. In this work, the flow distribution and pressure drop characteristics of interdigitated flow fields with constant and tapered cross-sections are examined numerically and experimentally. Two simplified 2D along-the-channel models are used: (1) a CFD model, which includes the channels and the porous electrode, with Darcy's viscous resistance as a momentum sink term in the latter; and (2) a semi-analytical model, which uses Darcy's law to describe the 2D flow in the electrode and lubrication theory to describe the 1D Poiseuille flow in the channels, with the 2D and 1D sub-models coupled at the channel/electrode interfaces. The predictions of the models are compared between them and with experimental data. The results show that the most influential parameter is gamma , defined as the ratio between the pressure drop along the channel due to viscous stresses and the pressure drop across the electrode due to Darcy's viscous resistance. The effect of Re in the channel depends on the order of magnitude of gamma, being negligible in conventional cells with slender channels that use electrodes with permeabilities in the order of 10−12 m2 and that are operated with moderate flow rates. Under these conditions, tapered channels can enhance mass transport and facilitate the removal of bubbles (from secondary reactions) because of the higher velocities achieved in the channel, while being pumping losses similar to those of constant cross-section flow fields. This agrees with experimental data measured in a single cell operated with aqueous vanadium-based electrolytes.


  • modeling; interdigitated flow field; channel tapering; pressure drop; flow distribution; lubrication theory; redox flow battery