Effect of CO in the reformatted fuel on the performance of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Birjand, Birjand, Iran


There are several obstacles to the commercialization of PEM fuel cells.  One of the reasons is that the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in the reformatted fuel, even at a very small scale, decreases the fuel cell performance. The aim of this paper is to investigate the effect of CO in reformatted fuel on PEM fuel cell performance. For this purpose, a steady state, one-dimensional and non-isothermal model is utilized to evaluate the PEM fuel cell performance with and without CO in the fuel stream. The governing equations which includes the conservation of mass, energy and species equations are solved in MATLAB software and validated by the available data in the literatures. The results indicate that when pure hydrogen is used as anode fuel the activation loss of the cathode is very large relative to the anode value; also, the maximum temperature occurs in the cathode catalyst layer. When reformatted fuel is applied as anode gas stream, activation loss and anode temperature increase by increasing the CO concentration in the reformatted fuel. As example, when CO concentration is over 50 ppm in the fuel stream, the activation loss and anode will be higher than the relevant amounts in cathode catalyst layer. Also it is observed that by increasing the fuel cell temperature and anode pressure, the CO effects on fuel cell performance are reduced.


Main Subjects

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