Electrochemistry Simulations: from Asset Integrity to Clean Energy
With STAR-CCM+, comprehensive simulations involving electrochemistry are possible, opening up applications such as corrosion and fuel cell modeling.
  • Temperature distribution analysis of an ASCS battery module of 84 cells: 42 cells are connected in series, and each row is connected in parallel. The liquid-cooled plates are lateraly postionned on each side of those rows (Model courtesy of ASCS, Stuttgart and Behr).
  • CD-adapco tools are used by a number of fuel cell companies to understand and optimize both proton exchange membrane (PEM) and solid oxide (SOFC) fuel cells. The image shows a single cell SOFC that incorporates heat transfer, electrochemical reaction, and multi-component gas transport.
  • Automotive companies utilize electroplating to make plastic parts look like metal. In the above image, Chromium III plating thickness on a plastic automotive grille is predicted using secondary current distributions. Chromium plating is the final layer in a multistep electroplating process consisting of pretreatment, copper, nickel, and finally chrome deposition. Choosing locations to make electric contact with the plastic part is crucial in obtaining...
  • Liquid electrolytes (i.e. acids and bases) can be used to pattern metal and semiconductor surfaces. The removal process is an electrochemical surface reaction that is often dependent on reactant and product concentrations, therefore non-homogenous etch rates are common. STAR-CCM+ can be used to aid understanding and optimization of wet-etch processes by predicting these concentration dependent etch rates. The above images show etch-product concentration...
  • Research at MIT has shown that ionic wind can produce 55 times more thrust per kilowatt than traditional jet engines http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/ionic-thrusters-0403 . This type of airflow can be produced by applying a voltage between two electrodes. If one electrode is sharp enough (like a wire or blade), a corona discharge occurs near the electrode surface that ionizes certain gas species (often O 2 + in air). These charged ions migrate from one...

Electrochemistry, as its name implies, unites theories for chemical reactions and electric currents. Reactions that occur at electrode surfaces often involve ions and electrons that generate currents in the fluid and solid domains, respectively.  These currents can be modeled in STAR-CCM+ to varying degrees of complexity; such as primary, secondary, and tertiary current distributions.

Primary current distributions neglect electrode kinetics completely and only account for ohmic losses due to fluid resistance.   Secondary current distributions account for ohmic losses in the fluid as well as charge-transfer resistance due to reactions at the electrode surfaces.  The assumptions associated with a secondary current distribution are generally considered only to be valid when the fluid is well mixed.  When species transport to the electrode surface becomes important, tertiary current distributions are required, which incorporate the concentration dependence of electrode reactions.

Increasingly engineers want to simulate complex electrochemically driven processes such as corrosion, fuel cell behavior, flow battery performance and many more diverse mechanisms. With this in mind CD-adapco has created a general purpose electrochemistry approach which allows the user to model such processes and harness the power of STAR-CCM+’s geometry and meshing capabilities. Previously such complex electrochemistry problems were solved using academic codes constrained to two dimensions or requiring major geometry simplification. This new development in STAR-CCM+ opens the door to detailed, real world electrochemistry simulations.  Electrochemistry simulation in STAR-CCM+ can be used to model applications such as:

  • Aluminum smelting
  • Batteries
  • Brine electrolysis
  • Corrosion
  • Electrochemical machining
  • Electrochemical reactors
  • Electrophoresis
  • Electroplating
  • Fuel Cells
  • Wet Etching
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