Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Jeffrey S. Allen

Committee Member 1

Kazuya Tajiri

Committee Member 2

Youngchul Ra

Committee Member 3

Rajesh K. Ahluwalia


A unique network architecture that captures the microstructural heterogeneity and predicts the local transport properties of PEMFC catalyst layers is proposed. Separate networks containing numerous cylindrical elements and nodes are generated that represent the solid and pore phase of the catalyst layer. Transport resistances are assigned to the elements while the nodes are volumeless. The networks are interlinked through nodes where local properties are stored. The generated computational grid's macroscopic behaviors (percolation behavior, gas diffusivity, and ion conductivity) will be matched against the experimental data for validation. Diffusion-like transport equations are applied to the networks that provide local water balance, active reaction sites, temperature distribution, and concentration of the species in the catalyst layer at various fuel cell operating scenarios. The proposed modeling approach can be used as a manufacturing guideline and testing tool for fuel cell catalyst layers.