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Effective Technique for Improving Electrical Performance and Reliability of Fuel Cells

Albarbar, A and Alrweq, Mohmad (2017) Effective Technique for Improving Electrical Performance and Reliability of Fuel Cells. International Journal of Power Electronics and Drive Systems, 8 (4). pp. 1868-1875. ISSN 2088-8694

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Abstract

To optimise the electrical performance of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, a number of factors have to be precisely monitored and controlled. Water content is one of those factors that has great impact on reliability, durability and performance of PEM fuel cells. The difficulty in controlling water content lies in the inability to determine correct level of water accumulated inside the fuel cell. In this paper, a model-based technique, implemented in COMSOL, is presented for monitoring water content in PEM fuel cells. The model predicts, in real time, water content taking account of other processes occurring in gas channels, across gas diffusion layers (GDL), electrodes, and catalyst layer (CL) and within the membrane to minimize voltage losses and performance degradation. The level of water generated is calculated as function of cell’s voltage and current. Model’s performance and accuracy are verified using a transparent 500 mW PEM fuel cell. Results show model predicted current and voltage curves are in good agreement with the experimental measurements. The unique feature of this model is that, no special requirements are needed as only current, and voltage of the PEM fuel cell were measured thus, is expected to pave the path for developing non-intrusive control and monitoring systems for fuel cells.

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