Simulation of liquid water beakthrough in a nano-tomography reconstruction of a carbon paper gas diffusion layer

This study reports the feasibility of newly simulating liquid water intrusion into the porous gas diffusion layer (GDL) of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) using X-ray nano-tomography and two-phase lattice Boltzmann (LB) simulation. A digital 3D model of the GDL is reconstructed using X-ray nanotomography while two-phase porous flow is simulated at two different levels of surface wettability by applying a newly-developed numerical LB model. The results show liquid infiltration in a hydrophobic GDL is comparatively lower (pore saturation of 0.11 to 0.90) than that for a hydrophilic GDL (pore saturation of 0.36 to 0.96) over the liquid intrusion range of 1 kPa . 100 kPa. Visualisation of simulated results in three dimensions reveal dissimilar liquid infiltration characteristics for the two levels of wettability considered, yet also reveal a general breakthrough of liquid water at a pressure of 10 kPa due to specific structural features of the GDL.