Doctoral Dissertations


Nannan Guo


"The flow field of a bipolar plate distributes reactants for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells and removes the produced water from the fuel cells. It greatly influences the performance of fuel cells, especially the concentration losses. Two approaches were developed to improve flow field designs in this dissertation. One is inspired by the biological circulatory structures and called bio-inspired designs, which have great potential to transport reactant efficiently and hence improve fuel cell performance. Another way is using a network-based optimization model to optimize the conventional flow field configurations, i.e., pin-type, parallel and serpentine designs, to improve flow distributions within the channels. A three-dimensional, two-phase numerical model was developed to investigate the mass, velocity and pressure distributions within the different flow fields and also the final fuel cell performance. Selective Laser Sintering, which provides a cost- and time-efficient way to build parts with complicated geometries, was used to fabricate graphite composite bipolar plates with these developed designs. Different graphite materials, including natural graphite, synthetic graphite, carbon black, and carbon fiber, were investigated in order to achieve higher electrical conductivity and flexural strength of the fabricated bipolar plates. Experimental testing of the PEM fuel cells with these fabricated bipolar plates was carried out to verify the numerical model and compare the performance for different flow field designs. Both the numerical and experimental results demonstrated that the bio-inspired designs and the optimized designs could substantially improve the fuel cell performance compared to the traditional designs"--Abstract, page iv.


Leu, M. C. (Ming-Chuan)

Committee Member(s)

Köylü, Ümit Ö. (Ümit Özgür)
Liou, Frank W.
Chandrashekhara, K .
Newkirk, Joseph William


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering


National Science Foundation (U.S.)
Air Force Research Laboratory (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio)


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Journal article titles appearing in thesis/dissertation

  • Effect of different graphite materials on the electrical conductivity and flexural strength of bipolar plates fabricated using selective laser sintering
  • Network based optimization model for pin-type flow field of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell
  • Performance investigation of PEM fuel cells using graphite composite plates fabricated by selective laser sintering
  • Bio-inspired flow field designs for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells
  • Optimization of parallel and serpentine configurations for polymer eletrolyte membrane fuel cells


xv, 173 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 171-172).


© 2013 Nannan Guo, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells -- Design -- Computer simulation
Biomimetics -- Computer simulation
Composite materials -- Testing
Graphite composites -- Mathematical models

Thesis Number

T 10393

Electronic OCLC #