Simulation-Assisted Determination of the Start-Up Time of a Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell

Merit Bodner*, Željko Penga*, Walter Ladreiter, Mathias Heidinger, Viktor Hacker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fuel starvation is a major cause of anode corrosion in low temperature polymer electrolyte fuel cells. The fuel cell start-up is a critical step, as hydrogen may not yet be evenly distributed in the active area, leading to local starvation. The present work investigates the hydrogen distribution and risk for starvation during start-up and after nitrogen purge by extending an existing computa-tional fluid dynamic model to capture transient behavior. The results of the numerical model are compared with detailed experimental analysis on a 25 cm2 triple serpentine flow field with good agreement in all aspects and a required time step size of 1 s. This is two to three orders of magnitude larger than the time steps used by other works, resulting in reasonably quick calculation times (e.g., 3 min calculation time for 1 s of experimental testing time using a 2 million element mesh).
Original languageEnglish
Article number7929
Number of pages21
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Fuel cell degradation
  • Fuel cell start-up
  • Transient CFD simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Optimization
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Fields of Expertise

  • Mobility & Production


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