Enhancing Mass Transport in Redox Flow Batteries by Tailoring Flow Field and Electrode Design
In this study, we investigate the mass transport effects of various flow field designs paired with raw and laser perforated carbon paper electrodes in redox flow batteries (RFBs). Previously, we observed significant increases in peak power density and limiting current density when perforated electrodes were used in conjunction with the serpentine flow field. In this work, we expand on our earlier findings by investigating various flow field designs (e.g., serpentine, parallel, interdigitated, and spiral), and continuously measuring pressure drop in each configuration. In all cases, these perforated electrodes are found to be associated with a reduction in pressure drop from 4% to 18%. Flow field designs with a continuous path from inlet to outlet (i.e., serpentine, parallel, spiral) are observed to exhibit improved performance (up to 31%) when paired with perforated electrodes, as a result of more facile reactant delivery and resulting greater utilization of the available surface area. Conversely, flow fields with discontinuous paths which force electrolyte to travel through the electrode (e.g. interdigitated), are adversely affected by the creation of perforations due to the high permeability 'channels' in the electrode. These results demonstrate that mass transport can significantly limit the performance of RFBs with carbon paper electrodes. (C) 2015 The Electrochemical Society. All rights reserved.