Modeling of an air cathode for microfluidic fuel cells: Transport and polarization behaviors

Huizhi Wang, Dennis Y.C. Leung, Jin Xuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Air-cathode microfluidic fuel cells are promising micro-scale power sources that unfortunately undergo substantial performance loss at the cathode. This study therefore develops a mathematical model to gain a better understanding of the fundamental processes and polarization characteristics associated with the MFC air cathode operation so as to find strategies to minimize the cathode polarization. The model is solved for the four regions of an MFC cathode compartment (i.e. gas channel, gas diffusion layer, catalyst layer and electrolyte microchannel), and considers microfluidic flow, species transport, charge transport and multi-step oxygen reduction reactions. Relying on the model, transport and chemical patterns inside the MFC cathode compartment are examined. Corresponding electrode polarization behaviors are analyzed over a wide operating potential range including different forms of resistance. Through a series of model-based parametric studies, it is found that the internal transfer resistance slightly decreases with increasing catalyst layer porosity but can be effectively reduced through a proper control of electrolyte hydrodynamic conditions, indicating microfluidic technology is a powerful tool for enhancing electrochemical cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14704-14718
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Air cathode
  • Fuel cell
  • Gas diffusion electrode
  • Microfluidics
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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