Computational characterization of diffusive mass transfer in porous solid oxide fuel cell components

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Nelson, George J.
Haynes, Comas
Wepfer, William J.
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Diffusive mass transport within porous SOFC components is explored using two modeling approaches that can better inform the SOFC electrode design process. These approaches include performance metrics for electrode cross-sectional design and a fractal approach for modeling mass transport within the pore structure of the electrode reaction zone. The performance metrics presented are based on existing analytical models for transport within SOFC electrodes. These metrics include a correction factor for button-cell partial pressure predictions and two forms of dimensionless reactant depletion current density. The performance impacts of multi-dimensional transport phenomena are addressed through the development of design maps that capture the trade-offs inherent in the reduction of mass transport losses within SOFC electrode cross-sections. As a complement to these bulk electrode models, a fractal model is presented for modeling diffusion within the electrochemically active region of an SOFC electrode. The porous electrode is separated into bulk and reaction zone regions, with the bulk electrode modeled in one-dimension based on the dusty-gas formalism. The reaction zone is modeled in detail with a two-dimensional finite element model using a regular Koch pore cross-section as a fractal template for the pore structure. Drawing on concepts from the analysis of porous catalysts, this model leads to a straightforward means of assessing the performance impacts of reaction zone microstructure. Together, the modeling approaches presented provide key insights into the impacts of bulk and microstructural geometry on the performance of porous SOFC components.
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