Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Jeffrey Allen

Committee Member 1

Chang Kyoung Choi

Committee Member 2

Kazuya Tajiri

Committee Member 3

Jon Pharoah


Water transport in the Porous Transport Layer (PTL) plays an important role in the efficient operation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). Excessive water content as well as dry operating conditions are unfavorable for efficient and reliable operation of the fuel cell. The effect of thermal conductivity and porosity on water management are investigated by simulating two-phase ow in the PTL of the fuel cell using a network model. In the model, the PTL consists of a pore-phase and a solid-phase. Different models of the PTLs are generated using independent Weibull distributions for the pore-phase and the solid-phase. The specific arrangement of the pores and solid elements is varied to obtain different PTL realizations for the same Weibull parameters. The properties of PTL are varied by changing the porosity and thermal conductivity. The parameters affecting operating conditions include the temperature, relative humidity in the ow channel and voltage and current density. In addition, a novel high-speed capable Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) microscope was built based on Kretschmann's configuration utilizing a collimated Kohler illumination. The SPR allows thin film characterization in a thickness of approximately 0-200nm by measuring the changes in the refractive index. Various independent experiments were run to measure film thickness during droplet coalescence during condensation.