Mathematical modeling of proton exchange membrane fuel cells




Rowe, Andrew Michael

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A good understanding of the various mass and heat transport, and electrochemical re-action processes is required for design strategies that lead to increased performance of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Traditionally, attempts at understand¬ing how these processes interact has been through mathematical modeling where efforts have focussed on understanding the cathode. The interaction between mass transport, membrane hydration and the effects of heat generation and transfer com¬plicates our understanding of relevant processes, hampering the effort to improve fuel cell performance. To further our basic understanding of how the power density of a PEM fuel cell can be increased, and, thereby, decrease the cost of a complete fuel cell system, a comprehensive performance model of a PEM fuel cell has been formulated and investigated. This model explicitly examines the anode as well as the cathode, and includes the effects of energy transfer as temperature control is critical to PEM cells. The results of this model suggest that humidification of the cathode gas stream may be reduced at high operating currents, the temperature peak across a single cell increases as operating temperature decreases, and the gas backing has a significant effect on mass transport at typical operating potentials, especially with air operation.



Fuel cells