Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Jeffrey Allen


This research initiative was triggered by the problems of water management of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC). In low temperature fuel cells such as PEMFC, some of the water produced after the chemical reaction remains in its liquid state. Excess water produced by the fuel cell must be removed from the system to avoid flooding of the gas diffusion layers (GDL). The GDL is responsible for the transport of reactant gas to the active sites and remove the water produced from the sites. If the GDL is flooded, the supply gas will not be able to reach the reactive sites and the fuel cell fails.

The choice of water removal method in this research is to exert a variable asymmetrical force on a liquid droplet. As the drop of liquid is subjected to an external vibrational force in the form of periodic wave, it will begin to oscillate. A fluidic oscillator is capable to produce a pulsating flow using simple balance of momentum fluxes between three impinging jets. By connecting the outputs of the oscillator to the gas channels of a fuel cell, a flow pulsation can be imposed on a water droplet formed within the gas channel during fuel cell operation. The lowest frequency produced by this design is approximately 202 Hz when a 20 inches feed-back port length was used and a supply pressure of 5 psig was introduced.

This information was found by setting up a fluidic network with appropriate data acquisition. The components include a fluidic amplifier, valves and fittings, flow meters, a pressure gage, NI-DAQ system, Siglab®, Matlab software and four PCB microphones. The operating environment of the water droplet was reviewed, speed of the sound pressure which travels down the square channel was precisely estimated, and measurement devices were carefully selected. Applicable alternative measurement devices and its application to pressure wave measurement was considered. Methods for experimental setup and possible approaches were recommended, with some discussion of potential problems with implementation of this technique. Some computational fluid dynamic was also performed as an approach to oscillator design.