Absorption, desorption, and transport of water in polymer electrolyte membranes for fuel cells

Shanhai Ge, Xuguang Li, Baolian Yi, I. Ming Hsing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


The transport of water vapor through a Nafion membrane includes absorption of water at one membrane/gas diffusion layer interface, water transport in the membrane, and desorption of water at another interface. Based on the structure of the membrane, a model for the water transport through the membrane is presented. It was assumed that the mass-transfer coefficients for the absorption and desorption of water and the water diffusion coefficient were dependent on the volume fraction of water (fv) in the membrane. These parameters were determined from steady-state water transport flux through the membranes at different water activity gradients. The results show that the mass-transfer coefficient for the absorption of water (ka, = 3.53 × 10-5fv m/s, 353 K) is much lower than that for the desorption of water (kd = 1.42 × 10-4fv m/s, 353 K). The parameters ka and kd describe the nonequilibrium water uptake of the membrane on operating conditions. Using these obtained parameters, the simulation results agree well with experimental data under many different conditions, including thickness of the membrane, water vapor/liquid water, temperature, and flow rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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