Andrew Crothers

Graduate Student, Ph.D. Program

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.
B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Economics, 2013

Research Interest:
Transport in fuel cells and flow batteries



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Proton conducting membranes are critical for energy technologies such as fuel cells and flow batteries. Understanding the fundamental transport phenomena of protons, water, and reactants in these electrochemical device is absolutely crucial for improving device design. Transport in the ion conducting polymer membrane, which separates anode from cathode, is particularly difficult to understand due to the complex, non-static nature of the polymer. The multiple length and time scales for transport in the membrane due to non-idealities, polymer relaxation, and network formation presents a clear need for models that provide predictive capabilities between these scales. Not only is this type of multiscale modeling useful for our broader understanding of transport in ion conducting polymers, it is also increasingly important for industry as car companies begin to deploy mass produced fuel cell vehicles that are consumer friendly (e.g. local drying that is poorly captured with continuum models can lead to cell failure and rapid changes in power requirements may be limited by membrane response times).

My research goal, with the guidance of my advisers Clay Radke (at UCB) and Adam Weber (at LBL), is to develop a framework for multiscale modeling of ionomer membranes and using it to understand transport. We are borrowing from porous media theory to develop a modified pore network model. We are using images from nanoscale resolution 3D microscopy to extract networks of where transport occurs in the system. Pore scale physics is used to determine the resistance for each connection in the network and from this effective transport across the system can be determined. Balances of mechanical and chemical energies along with relaxation dynamics can be used to evolve the system under varying conditions and time.



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