Flow electrochemical cells potentially provide a cheap alternative. The membrane, that separates the reactants, is usually one of the most expensive parts and one the main sources of inefficiency in the cell. At smaller scales, the laminar nature of the flow field allows removal of the membrane, with the stable liquid-liquid interface between reactants serving as a separator. However, this effectively replaces the prominent material science problem in fuel cells with a fluid dynamics problem. The goal of this research is to study transport phenomena in these devices in order to find the solution to this problem.
The nature of the problem, is basically a density-stratified miscible liquid-liquid flow in microchannels. To this end, we are creating detailed 3 dimensional models of the device that includes mass, momentum and heat transfer and accounts for the chemical reactions, gravity and density variations based on concentration. Going forward we plan to fabricate the device and validate our results. Finally we will analyze the results, study the effects of various parameters and use the insight gained from them to inform future designs.