In a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC), the catalyst degradation on cathodic side is one of the fatal problems caused by mal-distributed hydrogen supply into each channel on active area in a fuel cell, especially in a fuel cell stack for automotive fuel cell systems which consist of several hundreds of fuel cells stacked. For example, before getting the fuel cell system started-up, the gas in all the anodic flow passage including channels in each fuel cell is occupied by air instead of hydrogen due to cross leak from cathodic side to anodic side through the membrane employed as an electrolyte. In this situation, if hydrogen is supplied partially or unevenly between cells to start up the system, a concentration interface of air and hydrogen will be made within a fuel cell. This causes a state of local cell within a single fuel cell and the catalyst degradation (carbon corrosion or Pt dissolution) occurs. In this paper, to avoid this catalyst degradation, the gas distribution is investigated with pressurized hydrogen supply into channels located on the hundreds stacked fuel cells statically filled with air initially. A transient computational fluid analysis was applied to the flow fields of anodic side which consist of channels on fuel cells, both distributing and collecting manifold connected to the fuel cells under parameters: 1) number of stacked fuel cells (i.e. manifold length), 2) the rate of pressure rising (Pa/sec.) which makes the gas flow velocity. A gas analysis experiment was also carried out for a validation with mass spectrometer taking gas sample from several points along the gas channels on alternative fuel cells which are made of transparent acrylic resin. The results show that the uniform distribution in concentration between cells and its profile within the channels along the flow direction are strongly affected by flow field formed within the distributing manifold located upstream of stacked plates with channels.

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