Effect of thickness and outlet area fraction of macroporous gas diffusion layers on oxygen transport resistance in water injection simulations Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2022

start page

  • 413

end page

  • 440


  • 2


  • 145

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0169-3913

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-1634


  • Enhanced water removal through the gas diffusion layer (GDL) is important for the design of high-performance proton exchange fuel cells. In this work, the effects of GDL thickness and open area fraction at the GDL/flow field interface are examined under water invasion for a carbon-paper GDL (similar to Toray TGP-H series). Both uncompressed and inhomogeneously compressed samples are considered. Transport in heterogeneous, macroporous GDLs is modeled by means of a hybrid 3D discrete/continuum formulation based on a subdivision of the porous medium into control volumes due to the lack of a well-defined separation between pore and layer scales. Capillary-dominated transport of liquid water is simulated with an invasion percolation algorithm, while oxygen diffusion is simulated with a continuum formulation. Model predictions are validated with previous numerical and experimental data. It is shown that the combination of thin GDLs (thickness∼100μm) and high GDL/flow field open area fractions can facilitate water removal/oxygen supply from/to the catalyst layer and can provide a more uniform oxygen distribution over large cell active areas. In agreement with previous work, porous flow fields with pore sizes comparable to the GDL thickness are good candidates to meet the above requirements, while improving water removal from the flow field (higher gas-phase velocity than conventional millimeter-sized channels) and ensuring a more uniform assembly compression.


  • Chemistry
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Materials science and engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Renewable Energies


  • gas diffusion layer; oxygen transport resistance; water invasion; assembly compression; modeling