Fuel cells work through an electrochemical reaction between oxygen and
hydrogen to produce electricity, heat and water. CFD allows engineers to
simulate the energy, mass and heat transfer processes involved. Using
CFD it is possible to develop and optimize the configuration of the fuel
cell with respect to energy efficiency, which can help with the crucial
water management of the system .
University of South Carolina (USC) is at the forefront of fuel cell
research and has several of the major automotive manufacturers as its
sponsors. They work in close collaboration with the CD adapco Group,
developers of STAR-CD, an advanced CFD code. CD adapco Groupís engineers
explain "With the internal combustion engine, methods exist to simulate
the flow of multiple reactants. However, in fuel cells you have the
extra electrochemical component, for which you need to add a charge
Using STAR-CD, the scientists at the USC in collaboration with
engineers at the CD adapco Group have tackled this challenging task
successfully. The implementation of a full fuel cell model in STAR-CD is
a major achievement, some way ahead of other research centers in this
field. "The progress has been tremendous and at this point a large
number of fuel cell problems can already be addressed by CFD. CFD is now
such a well-established technology that we can tap into existing
expertise around the world rather than starting from scratch. This has
greatly accelerated recent progress".
Looking into the future, both CD adapco Group and USC believe that fuel
cell design will become more and more important to CFD companies. Riaz
Sanatian, Automotive Industry Sector Manager of the CD adapco Group says
"There are clear signs that fuel cell technology is going to provide a
viable, clean and efficient alternative to the traditional IC engine,
and CFD should be able to significantly contribute to the acceleration
of this transition over the next few years."
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Velocity field predictions in the fuel cell.