Engineering Lung-Inspired Flow Field Geometries for Electrochemical Flow Cells with Stereolithography 3D Printing

Thumbnail Image
Publication date
Defense date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
American Chemical Society
Google Scholar
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Electrochemical flow reactors are increasingly relevant platforms in emerging sustainable energy conversion and storage technologies. As a prominent example, redox flow batteries, a well-suited technology for large energy storage if the costs can be significantly reduced, leverage electrochemical reactors as power converting units. Within the reactor, the flow field geometry determines the electrolyte pumping power required, mass transport rates, and overall cell performance. However, current designs are inspired by fuel cell technologies but have not been engineered for redox flow battery applications, where liquid-phase electrochemistry is sustained. Here, we leverage stereolithography 3D printing to manufacture lung-inspired flow field geometries and compare their performance to conventional flow field designs. A versatile two-step process based on stereolithography 3D printing followed by a coating procedure to form a conductive structure is developed to manufacture lung-inspired flow field geometries. We employ a suite of fluid dynamics, electrochemical diagnostics, and finite element simulations to correlate the flow field geometry with performance in symmetric flow cells. We find that the lung-inspired structural pattern homogenizes the reactant distribution throughout the porous electrode and improves the electrolyte accessibility to the electrode reaction area. In addition, the results reveal that these novel flow field geometries can outperform conventional interdigitated flow field designs, as these patterns exhibit a more favorable balance of electrical and pumping power, achieving superior current densities at lower pressure loss. Although at its nascent stage, additive manufacturing offers a versatile design space for manufacturing engineered flow field geometries for advanced flow reactors in emerging electrochemical energy storage technologies.
Aqueous redox flow batteries, Electrochemical diagnostics, Flow reactor, Fractal geometries, High performance, Homogeneous electrolyte distribution, Lung inspired design, Numerical simulation
Bibliographic citation
ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, (2023), 11 (33), pp.:12243−12255