An investigation of the liquid water saturation across the cross-section of an operating polymer electrolyte fuel cell is performed to analyze the saturation discontinuity predicted by numerical models. Numerical models have predicted a discontinuity in the liquid water saturation at the interface of the micro-porous layer and the coarser macroporous region of the gas diffusion layer. High-resolution through plane neutron radiography is used to acquire the water content distribution across the thickness of the gas-diffusion layer and study the effects of the interface. The measured liquid water profiles indicate no obvious discontinuity in the liquid water saturation across the cross-section of the bi-layer gas diffusion layer when large areas are averaged spatially. Evidence of the discontinuity is found when small spatial averaging is used in certain locations. Other locations show no evidence of the discontinuity. Scanning electron microscopy is used to examine the microstructure of two types of the bi-layer diffusion media. The images show that the approximation of the interface as a sudden, distinct feature may not be appropriate. The results suggest that a model that considers the existence of an interfacial region in the diffusion media may be appropriate, in which the properties vary continuously.

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