Employing Hot Wire Anemometry to Directly Measure the Water Balance of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

Saher Al Shakhshir, Torsten Berning

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC’s) are currently being commercialized for various applications ranging from automotive to stationary such as powering telecom back-up units. In PEMFC’s, oxygen from air is internally combined with hydrogen to form water and produce electricity and waste heat. One critical technical problem of these fuel cells is still the water management: the proton exchange membrane in the center of these fuel cells has to be hydrated in order to stay proton-conductive while excessive liquid water can lead to cell flooding and increased degradation rates. Clearly, a fundamental understanding of all aspects of water management in PEMFC is imperative. This includes the fuel cell water balance, i.e. which fraction of the product water leaves the fuel cell via the anode versus the cathode.
Our research group is currently developing a novel technique to obtain an ad-hoc and real time electrical signal of the fuel cell water balance by employing hot wire anemometry. The hot wire sensor is placed into a binary mixture of hydrogen and water vapour, and the voltage signal received gives valuable insight into heat and mass transfer phenomena in a PEMFC. A central question in hot wire anemometry is the description of the Nusselt number as function of the Reynolds number and the Prandtl number, and in the current application it can be shown it is essential to employ a power-law equation instead of the commonly employed Churchill Bernstein equation. It will be shown that in the former case the relative voltage signal of the hot wire is then independent of the fuel cell current which is essential for this method to work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateMar 2016
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
EventThe First Pacific Rim Thermal Engineering Conference - Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Hawaii's Big Island, Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii, United States
Duration: 13 Mar 201617 Mar 2016
Conference number: 1


ConferenceThe First Pacific Rim Thermal Engineering Conference
LocationWaikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Hawaii's Big Island
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWaikoloa Beach, Hawaii
Internet address


  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cells
  • Convection heat transfer around a cylinder
  • Water balance
  • Fuel cell diagnosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Employing Hot Wire Anemometry to Directly Measure the Water Balance of a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Berning, T. & Al Shakhshir, S.


    Project: Research

Cite this