A two-dimensional theoretical model is developed in this study to simulate the transport phenomena of oxygen in cathode gas diffusion layer (GDL) of proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). An analytical solution is then obtained accordingly to characterize the effects of GDL on cell performance. It is found that the concentration flux of oxygen across the GDL is primarily dominated by the thickness and porosity of GDL. For a thicker GDL, the diffusion resistance increases and thus lowers the cell performance especially under high current density condition. On the other hand, an increase of porosity will enhance the transport of oxygen and result in significant improvement of cell performance. The influences of system parameters including the temperature, channel height, inlet velocity, and inlet pressure on the diffusion of oxygen in GDL are also examined systematically. Results provide insights into the characteristics of oxygen diffusion in GDL and benefit the optimal design of PEMFC.
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