Stephen Stacy

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 S. Allen


Water management in the porous media of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, catalyst layer and porous transport layers (PTL) is confronted by two issues, flooding and dry out, both of which result in improper functioning of the fuel cell and lead to poor performance and degradation.

The data that has been reported about water percolation and wettability within a fuel cell catalyst layer is limited to porosimetry. A new method and apparatus for measuring the percolation pressure in the catalyst layer has been developed. The experimental setup is similar to a Hele-Shaw experiment where samples are compressed and a fluid is injected into the sample. Pressure-Wetted Volume plots as well as Permeability plots for the catalyst layers were generated from the percolation testing.

PTL samples were also characterizes using a Hele-Shaw method. Characterization for the PTLs was completed for the three states: new, conditioned and aged. This is represented in a Ce-t* plots, which show a large offset between new and aged samples.