Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Sirivatch Shimpalee

Abstract

Water electrolysis has been a simple method of hydrogen production for over two centuries, but the exploration of its nuances is still accelerating. This work compiles numerous mechanisms via which electrolysis efficiency is influenced by phenomena that occur within, adjacent to, and nearby functional porous media. Computational and experimental methods are applied to electrolysis systems to quantify the impact of twophase flow patterns and porous media properties on energy losses, primarily those linked directly to the presence of the gas phase.

First, an introduction to the chemistry and operating principle of water electrolysis is presented and relevant works from the literature are compiled and summarized in order to explain important topics that are still under investigation. The pseudo-two-phase mixture model employed to study fluid flow in three-dimensional cell geometries is described later, followed by demonstrations of its use simulating proton exchange membrane and alkaline diaphragm water electrolysis devices. In these studies, the kinetic limitations attributed to the gas-phase reaction are computed across entire electrodes to elucidate the connection between fluid flow and the local gas evolution reaction environment. Finally, detailed experimental investigations of the effects of porous transport layer surface properties are presented in order to draw conclusions concerning two-phase transport at interfaces between the separator/catalyst-coated membrane and adjacent functional porous media.

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