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CFD Modeling and Experimental Validation of an Alkaline Water Electrolysis Cell for Hydrogen Production


Although alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) is the most widespread technology for hydrogen production by electrolysis, its electrochemical and fluid dynamic optimization has rarely been addressed simultaneously using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation. In this regard, a two-dimensional (2D) CFD model of an AWE cell has been developed using COMSOL® software and then experimentally validated. The model involves transport equations for both liquid and gas phases as well as equations for the electric current conservation. This multiphysics approach allows the model to simultaneously analyze the fluid dynamic and electrochemical phenomena involved in an electrolysis cell. The electrical response was evaluated in terms of polarization curve (voltage vs. current density) at different operating conditions: temperature, electrolyte conductivity, and electrode-diaphragm distance. For all cases, the model fits very well with the experimental data with an error of less than 1% for the polarization curves. Moreover, the model successfully simulates the changes on gas profiles along the cell, according to current density, electrolyte flow rate, and electrode-diaphragm distance. The combination of electrochemical and fluid dynamics studies provides comprehensive information and makes the model a promising tool for electrolysis cell design.

Funding source: This research was funded by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MICINN, Spain), Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM, Spain) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the framework of the project entitled “Singular and Strategic Project of Renewable Hydrogen” (PSEH2RENOV, nº 120000-2009-3).
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Spain

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