Modelling membrane hydration and water balance of a pem fuel cell

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells requires an appropriate hydration in order to ensure high efficiency and long durability. As water is essential for promoting proton conductivity in the membrane, it is important to control membrane water hydration to avoid flooding.
In this study we propose a novel mathematical zero-dimensional model for water mass balance of a polymer electrolyte membrane. Physical and electrochemical processes occurring in the membrane electrolyte are included; water adsorption/desorption phenomena are also considered. The effect of diffusivity, surface roughness and water content driving force is considered. We validate the model against experimental data.
The water balance calculated by this model shows better fit with experimental data-points compared to other models such as the one by Springer et al.. We conclude that this discrepancy is due a different rate of water transport when membrane absorption/desorption is considered in the model. The model becomes useful when studying fuel cell systems in dynamic conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th European Fuel Cell, Piero Lunghi Conference
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationNaples
PublisherENEA, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
Publication dateDec 2015
Article number62
ISBN (Electronic)978-88-8286-324-1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
EventEuropean Fuel Cell, Piero Lunghi Conference - Napels, Italy
Duration: 16 Dec 201518 Dec 2015


ConferenceEuropean Fuel Cell, Piero Lunghi Conference


  • PEM fuel cells
  • Water management
  • System modelling

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