Investigation of the Hydrogen Mass Fraction Distribution in a Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell through Experimentally Validated Simulation

Merit Bodner*, Željko Penga, Viktor Hacker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


During the start-up of a fuel cell, but also during transient operation, the availability of hydrogen at any location of the active surface of the fuel cell anode is crucial for its safe and reliable operation. When neglecting water vapor, inlet hydrogen mass fractions below one may occur when inert gases or air are flushed out during start-up or as a result of nitrogen accumulation due to fuel recirculation in fuel-efficiency driven system operation [1], [2]. Therefore, in a combined experimental and simulation-based approach, the hydrogen mass fraction distribution over the active area of a 25 cm2 single cell was investigated and the impact of it on known degradation mechanisms such as the corrosion of carbon-based anode catalyst support was determined through off-gas analysis. With a new approach to time-resolved computational fluid dynamic simulation (based on an existing model by Penga et al. [3]) the progression of local conditions during current ramp up were visualized [4].


[1] B. Wang, H. Deng, and K. Jiao, “Purge strategy optimization of proton exchange membrane fuel cell with anode recirculation,” Appl. Energy, vol. 225, no. May, pp. 1–13, 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.04.058.

[2] K. Kocher, S. Kolar, W. Ladreiter, and V. Hacker, “Cold start behavior and freeze characteristics of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell,” Fuel Cells, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 363–372, 2021, doi: 10.1002/fuce.202000106.

[3] Ž. Penga, C. Bergbreiter, F. Barbir, and J. Scholta, “Numerical and experimental analysis of liquid water distribution in PEM fuel cells,” Energy Convers. Manag., vol. 189, pp. 167–183, Jun. 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.enconman.2019.03.082.

[4] M. Bodner, Ž. Penga, W. Ladreiter, M. Heidinger, and V. Hacker, “Simulation-Assisted Determination of the Start-Up Time of a Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell,” Energies, vol. 14, no. 23, p. 7929, Nov. 2021, doi: 10.3390/en14237929.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022
Event241st ECS Meeting - Vancouver, Hybrider Event, Canada
Duration: 29 May 20222 Jun 2022


Conference241st ECS Meeting
CityHybrider Event

Fields of Expertise

  • Mobility & Production

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