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Optimization of flow fields in redox flow batteries

Optimization of flow fields in redox flow batteries can increase performance and efficiency, while reducing cost. Therefore, there is a need to establish a fundamental understanding on the connection between flow fields, electrolyte flow management and electrode properties. In this work*, the flow distribution and pressure drop characteristics of interdigitated flow fields with constant and tapered cross-sections are examined numerically and experimentally. Two simplified 2D along-the-channel models are used: 

  1. a CFD model, which includes the channels and the porous electrode, with Darcy's viscous resistance as a momentum sink term in the latter; and 
  2. a semi-analytical model, which uses Darcy's law to describe the 2D flow in the electrode and lubrication theory to describe the 1D Poiseuille flow in the channels. 

The predictions of the models are compared between them and with experimental data. The results show that tapered channels can enhance mass transport and facilitate the removal of bubbles (from secondary reactions) because of the higher velocities achieved in the channel, while being pumping losses similar to those of constant cross-section flow fields. This agrees with experimental data measured in a single cell operated with aqueous vanadium-based electrolytes.

(*) García-Salaberri, P.A., Gokoglan, T.C., Ibáñez, S.E., Agar, E., Vera, M. Modeling the effect of channel tapering on the pressure drop and flow distribution characteristics of interdigitated flow fields in redox flow batteries. (2020) Processes, 8 (7), art. no. 775, DOI: 10.3390/PR8070775

More information: Santiago Ibáñez. Postdoctoral researcher, Electrochemical Processes Unit, santiago.ibanez@imdea.org.

Single cell used in the experiments, indicating the elementary repeating unit, and illustrative diagram of the geometry of the interdigitated channels with constant cross section and in the form of a ramp.

Event Date: 
Friday, December 18, 2020