Advanced CFD Analysis of an Air-cooled PEM Fuel Cell Stack Predicting the Loss of Performance with Time

Clemens Fink*, Larisa Karpenko-Jereb, Sean Ashton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The PEM fuel cell simulation package developed by AVL List
GmbH is coupled with a semi-empirical degradation model
describing the dependency of material parameters on operating
conditions. The CFD model calculates the 3D distributions
of electronic/ionic potentials, velocity, pressure, phase
volume fractions, gas species mass fractions, and temperature
in all solids and fluids of PEM fuel cell stacks, as well as
water concentration and hydraulic pressure in the membrane.
The degradation model modifies membrane and catalyst
layer parameters according to local operating conditions
and given operating time during the simulation run-time.
Calculated distributions of current density and temperature
are compared to experimental data of an air-cooled PEM fuel
cell stack obtained with segmented measurement plates. For
the validation of the degradation model, calculated current
density decay vs. operating time are compared to throughlife
polarization measurements. The good agreement
between measurement and simulation demonstrates the ability
of the model to predict the complex physical phenomena
taking place in PEM fuel cells with high accuracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490–503
Number of pages14
JournalFuel Cells
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Air Cooling, CFD Simulation, Degradation Model, Electrochemistry, Fuel Cells, Heat Transfer


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