Numerical study on the performance prediction of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


An electrochemical analysis on a single channel PEM fuel cell was carried out by Computational Fuel Cell Dynamics (CFCD). The objective was to assess the latest developments regarding the effects of change in the current collector materials, porosity of electrodes and gas diffusion layer on the fuel cell power density. Graphite, as the most applicable current collector material, was applied followed by Aluminum and Titanium. It was found that titanium enhances the performance of the fuel cell as compared to the graphite and aluminum. Other results obtained were: the total porosity of electrodes' layers does not have a significant effect on power density. At higher porosity of gas diffusion layer at voltages higher than 0.5 is favorable in gas diffusion, which leads to better performance. A numerical model, based on the assessment of basic best practice guidelines for CFCD, was developed that led to reasonably good agreement with the experimental results.


Main Subjects

[1]      Kasukurthi J., "Optimization of channel geometry in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell", University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2009.
[2]      Kaldellis J. K. and Zafirak D, "Optimum energy storage techniques for the improvement of renewable energy sources-based electricity generation economic efficiency",  Energy, 2007, 32: 2295.
[3]      Cicconardi S. P, Jannelli E. and Spazzafumo G., "Hydrogen energy storage: hydrogen and oxygen storage subsystems", Int. J. Hydrog. energy, 1997, 22: 89.
[4]      Mehta V. and Cooper J. S, "Review and analysis of PEM fuel cell design and manufacturing", J. Power Sources, 2003, 114: 32.
[5]      Wang S. H., Peng J., Lui W. B. and Zhang J. S., "Performance of the gold-plated titanium bipolar plates for the light weight PEM fuel cells", J. Power Sources, 2006, 162: 486.
[6]      Kumar A. and Reddy R. G., "PEM fuel cell bipolar plate- material selection, design and integration", Proceeding of the EPD Congress 2002 and Fundamentals of Advanced Materials for Energy Conversion, TMS Annual Meeting, USA, Washington, 2002: 41.
[7]      Kumar A. and Reddy R. G., "Materials and design development for bipolar/end plates in fuel cells", Power Sources, 2004, 129: 62.
[8]      Roca-Ayats M., Garcia G., Pena M. A. and Martinez-Huerta M. V., "Titanium carbide and carbonitride electrocatalyst supports: modifying Pt–Ti interface properties by electrochemical potential cycling" , J. Mater. Chem. A, 2014, 2: 18786.
[9]      Iranzo A., Munoz M., Rosa F. and Pino J., "Numerical model for the performance prediction of a PEM fuel cell. Model results and experimental validation",  Int. J. Hydrog. Energy, 2010, 35:11533.
[10]    Obaoyopo S. O., Bello-Ochende T. and Meyer J. P., "Modelling and optimization of reactant gas transport in a PEM fuel cell with a transverse pin fin insert in channel flow",  Int. J. Hydrog. energy, 2012, 37: 10286.
[11]    Wang X. D, Xu J. L. and Lee D. J., "Parameter sensitivity examination for a complete three-dimensional, two-phase, non-isothermal model of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell", Int. J. Hydrog. energy, 2012, 37: 15766.
[12]    Pasaogullari U. and Wang C. Y., "Two-phase modeling and flooding prediction of polymer electrolyte fuel cells",  Electrochem. Soc, 2005, 152: A380.
[13]    Djilali N., "Computational modelling of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells: challenges and opportunities", Energy, 2007, 32: 269.
[14]    Taymaz I. and Benli M., "Numerical study of assembly pressure effect on the performance of proton exchange membrane fuel cell", J. Energy, 2010, 35: 2134.
[15]    Zhang Z., Wang X., Zhang X. and Jia L, "Optimizing the performance of a single PEM fuel cell. science and technology", J. fuel cell, 2008, 5: 31007.
[16]    Ebrahimi I. M. and Eikani M. H., "Three-dimensional modeling of transport phenomena in a planar anode-supported solid oxide fuel cell", Iran. J. Hydrog. Fuel Cell, 2017, 1: 37.
[17]    Ramin F., Baheri Islami S. and Hossainpour S., "The effect of increasing the multiplicity of flow fields contact surface on the performance of PEM fuel cell", Iran. J. Hydrog. Fuel Cell, 2017, 1: 69.
[18]    Rostami L., Mohamad Goly Nejad P. and Vatani A., "A numerical investigation of serpentine fl ow channel with different bend sizes in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells", Energy, 2016, 97: 400.
[19]    Vasilyev A., Andrews J., Jackson L. M., Dunnett S. J. and Davies B., "Component-based modelling of PEM fuel cells with bond graphs", Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2017, 42: 2940.
[20]    Jithin M., Siddharth S., Das M. K. and De A., "Simulation of coupled heat and mass transport with reaction in PEM fuel cell cathode using lattice Boltzmann method", Therm. Sci. Eng. Prog., 2017, 4: 85.
[21]    Scheuerer M., Heitsch M., Menter F., Egorov Y., Toth I. and Bestion D., "Evaluation of computational fluid dynamic Des, methods for reactor safety analysis (ECORA)", Nucl Eng, 2005, 235: 359.
[22]    Wang C. Y., "Fundamental models for fuel cell engineering", Chem. rev., 2004, 104: 4727.
[23]    Um S., Wang C.Y. and Chen K. S., "Computational fluid dynamics modeling of proton exchange membrane fuel cells", J. Electrochem soc, 2000, 147: 4485.
[24]    Pasaogullari U. and Wang C.Y, "Liquid water transport in gas diffusion layer of polymer electrolyte fuel cells", J. Electrochem soc, 2004, 151: A399.
[25]    Springer T.E, Zawodzinski T. A. and Gottesfeld S., "Polymer electrolyte fuel cell model",  J. Electrochem Soc, 1991, 138: 2334.
[26]    Tao W. Q, Min C.H, Liu X.L., He Y.L., Yin B.H. and Jiang W., "Parameter sensitivity examination and discussion of PEM fuel cell simulation model validation: Part I. Current status of modeling research and model development",  J. power sources, 2006, 160: 359.
[27]    Iranzo A., Monuz M., Lopez E., Pino J. and Rosa F., "Experimental fuel cell performance analysis under different operating conditions and bipolar plate designs", Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2010, 35: 11437.
[28]    Chervin C., Glass R.S. and Kauzlarich S.M, "Chemical degradation of La 1− x SrxMnO 3/Y2O3-stabilized ZrO2 composite cathodes in the presence of current collector pastes",  Solid State Ionics, 2005, 176: 17.
[29]    Simner S. P., Anderson M. D., Pederson L. R. and Stevenson J. W, "Performance variability of La (Sr) FeO3 SOFC cathode with Pt, Ag, and Au current collectors",  J. Electrochem Soc, 2005, 152: A1851.
[30]    Mench M.M., "Frontmatter, Fuel Cell Engines", Wiley Online Library, 2008, 121-190.
[31]    Kong C. S., Kim D .Y., Lee H. K, Shul Y. G. and Lee T. H., "Influence of pore-size distribution of diffusion layer on mass-transport problems of proton exchange membrane fuel cells", J. Power Sources, 2002, 108: 185.