Progress of Cryogenics and Isotopes Separation , ISSN: 1582-2575
2008, Volume 11, Issue 21+22

Parameters That Influence the PEM Fuel Cell Performance

Elena Carcadea 1* , D. B. Ingham 2 , Ioan Stefanescu 1 , Roxana Ionete 1 , Horia Ene 3 , B. Nicolescu 4

1 National Institute of Cryogenics & Isotopic Technologies, Rm. Valcea
2 University of Leeds, Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics
3 Institute of Mathematics of the Romanian Academy
4 University of Pitesti, Faculty of Mathematics

*Corresponding author: Elena Carcadea, e-mail:

Published: June 2008


The performance of a PEM fuel cell is determined by several parameters, which describe fundamental, electrochemical and physical properties of the fuel cell layers, operational conditions, geometry and structure of the flow field. One parameter that could strongly influence the PEM fuel cell performance is the permeability of the porous layers.

A three-dimensional, gas-liquid two-phase flow model has been developed and used to simulate the multi-dimensional, multi-phase flow and transport phenomena in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and also the cell performance. The numerical model implemented in Fluent 6.3, using the Fuel cell 2.2 Module, is capable of simulating all phenomena that are taking place inside PEM fuel cells.

The paper presents some results obtained for two cases in which we are varying the permeability of gas diffusion layers and catalyst layers. Simulations were carried out for two permeabilities of the porous layers, respectively 10-9 (m2) (case 1) and 10-12 (m2) (case 2), in order to see the influence of this parameter for the water formation and transport. Thus, the work present some results important for the two-phase model: the distributions for water mass fraction at the interface between the anode/cathode and the membrane, water content, liquid water activity and local net water flux per proton in the membrane. Through this study, our main goal was to obtain an optimum value of the porous layers permeability in order to increase the uniformity in distribution of reactant species and current density over the active area.



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