UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Different Methods for Determining Porosity of Gas Diffusion Layer using X-ray Microtomography Hasanpour, Sadegh; Hoorfar, Mina; Phillion, André


Gas diffusion layer (GDL) is a crucial component in polymer electrode membrane fuel cells. Being highly porous, this layer facilitates transport of species from the flow field to the reaction sites and vice versa. One of the main characteristics of GDLs is porosity, which has been measured using a number of different methods including 3D X-ray microtomography (μ XCT). Despite the extensive use of this technique in investigating the properties of GDLs, there are variations in the results since the surface of the three dimensional volume used to obtain the bulk porosity of GDLs is difficult to quantify. In this paper, a robust surface identification method, referred to as "Rolling Ball", is introduced to identify systematically the surface and hence porosity of GDLs from μ XCT datasets. In this method, the diameter of the GDL carbon fiber is used as the characteristic length in combination with a Distance Transform (DT) to robustly identify the surface topology. This method is then used to estimate porosity of four different samples of a highly porous GDL, SGL 25BA. The results between different samples show great consistency. A comparison with other methods is also performed, and variations in the bulk and in-plane porosity are observed. The main advantage of the proposed Rolling Ball method compared to prior methods used in the literature is that it uses the carbon fiber diameter to identify the surface results in a systematic fashion. This methodology can be easily applied to other highly porous media.

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