Experimental study and numerical modeling of vibrational characteristics of a 500W PEM fuel cell stack

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty of Mechanics, Malek Ashtar Universty of Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Fuel Cell Technology Research Laboratory, Malek Ashtar University of Technology, Fereydoonkenar, Iran

3 Department of Aerospace Engineering, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


A PEM fuel cell is considered a system with a complex mechanical structure due to a large number of components with different dimensions and materials. Understanding this structure is essential to design fuel cells against dynamic loads such as shock and vibration. In this paper, modal analysis of a 500 W fuel cell with an active area of 225  has been performed. The fuel cell has been excited in transverse and longitudinal directions, and the outputs of the sensors were recorded at several points. Using the Poly reference least-squares complex frequency-domain method, the first ten transverse and longitudinal natural frequencies and mode shapes of the model were determined. Modal analysis revealed that the lack of structural integrity, the layered structure, and the layer connection type results in the formation of mode shapes that do not match conventional predictions. Comparison of the numerical and experimental results showed a maximum difference of 15%. Furthermore, the results illustrated that changing geometrical and mechanical properties of the membrane by 45% have a negligible effect on the natural frequency of the fuel cell. Allowing for this fact will result in a significant reduction in the computational cost of large-scale fuel cells analysis.


[1] Wilberforce T, Alaswad A, Palumbo A, Dassisti M, Olabi A-G. Advances in stationary and portable fuel cell applications. International journal of hydrogen energy 2016;41:16509-22.
[2] Rouss V, Candusso D, Charon W. Mechanical behaviour of a fuel cell stack under vibrating conditions linked to aircraft applications part II: Three-dimensional modelling. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 2008;33:6281-8.
[3] Rouss V, Lesage P, Bégot S, Candusso D, Charon W, Harel F, et al. Mechanical behaviour of a fuel cell stack under vibrating conditions linked to aircraft applications part I: Experimental. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 2008;33:6755-65.
[4] Rajalakshmi N, Pandian S, Dhathathreyan K. Vibration tests on a PEM fuel cell stack usable in transportation application. International journal of hydrogen energy 2009;34:3833-7.
[5] Hou Y, Zhou W, Shen C. Experimental investigation of gas-tightness and electrical insulation of fuel cell stack under strengthened road vibrating conditions. International journal of hydrogen energy 2011;36:13763-8.
[6] Diloyan G, Sobel M, Das K, Hutapea P. Effect of mechanical vibration on platinum particle agglomeration and growth in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell catalyst layers. Journal of Power Sources 2012;214:59-67.
[7] Deshpande J, Dey T, Ghosh PC. Effect of vibrations on performance of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Energy Procedia 2014;54:756-62.
[8] Wu CW, Liu B, Wei MY, Zhang W. Mechanical response of a large fuel cell stack to impact: A numerical analysis. Fuel Cells 2015;15:344-51.
[9] Imen S, Shakeri M. Reliability evaluation of an open‐cathode PEMFC at operating state and longtime vibration by mechanical loads. Fuel Cells 2016;16:126-34.
[10] Wang X, Wang S, Chen S, Zhu T, Xie X, Mao Z. Dynamic response of proton exchange membrane fuel cell under mechanical vibration. International Journal Of Hydrogen Energy 2016;41:16287-95.
[11] Liu B, Wei M, Zhang W, Wu C. Effect of impact acceleration on clamping force design of fuel cell stack. Journal of Power Sources 2016;303:118-25.
[12] Hao D, Hou Y, Shen J, Ma L. Effect of Road-Induced Vibration on Gas-Tightness of Vehicular Fuel Cell Stack. SAE Technical Paper; 2016.
[13] Al-Baghdadi MAS. A parametric study of the natural vibration and mode shapes of PEM fuel cell stacks. International Journal of Energy and Environment 2016;7:1.
[14] Ahn S, Koh H, Lee J, Park J. Dependence between the vibration characteristics of the proton exchange membrane fuel cell and the stack structural feature. Environmental research 2019;173:48-53.
[15] Mevel L, Goursat M, Basseville M, Benveniste A. Subspace-based modal identification and monitoring of large structures: a scilab toolbox. IFAC Proceedings Volumes 2003;36:1363-8.
[16] Abaqus V. 6.14 Documentation. Dassault Systemes Simulia Corporation 2014;651:6.2.
[17] Barzegari MM, Dardel M, Ramiar A, Alizadeh E. An investigation of temperature effect on performance of dead-end cascade H2/O2 PEMFC stack with integrated humidifier and separator. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 2016;41:3136-46.
[18] Baroutaji A, Carton J, Sajjia M, Olabi A. Materials in PEM fuel cells, Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering. Elsevier; 2016.
[19] Alizadeh E, Barzegari M, Momenifar M, Ghadimi M, Saadat S. Investigation of contact pressure distribution over the active area of PEM fuel cell stack. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 2016;41:3062-71.
[20] Barzegari MM, Dardel M, Alizadeh E, Ramiar A. Dynamic modeling and validation studies of dead-end cascade H2/O2 PEM fuel cell stack with integrated humidifier and separator. Applied energy 2016;177:298-308.
[21] Blau PJ. Friction science and technology: from concepts to applications: CRC press; 2008.
[22] Cohen P, Cohen J, Teresi J, Marchi M, Velez CN. Problems in the measurement of latent variables in structural equations causal models. Applied Psychological Measurement 1990;14:183-96.