Computational fluid dynamics modeling of proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Sukkee Um, C. Y. Wang, K. S. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

749 Scopus citations


A transient, multidimensional model has been developed to simulate proton exchange membrane fuel cells. The model accounts simultaneously for electrochemical kinetics, current distribution, hydrodynamics, and multicomponent transport. A single set of conservation equations valid for flow channels, gas-diffusion electrodes, catalyst layers, and the membrane region are developed and numerically solved using a finite-volume-based computational fluid dynamics technique. The numerical model is validated against published experimental data with good agreement. Subsequently, the model is applied to explore hydrogen dilution effects in the anode feed. The predicted polarization curves under hydrogen dilution conditions are in qualitative agreement with recent experiments reported in the literature. The detailed two-dimensional electrochemical and flow/transport simulations further reveal that in the presence of hydrogen dilution in the fuel stream, hydrogen is depleted at the reaction surface, resulting in substantial anode mass transport polarization and hence a lower current density that is limited by hydrogen transport from the fuel stream to the reaction site. Finally, a transient simulation of the cell current density response to a step change in cell voltage is reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4485-4493
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2000

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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