Research Article Open Access

Analysis of Heat Transport in a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell

E. Afshari1 and S.A. Jazayeri1
  • 1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, K.N. Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


In this study a two-phases, single-domain and non-isothermal model of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell has been studied to investigate thermal management effects on fuel cell performance. A set of governing equations, conservation of mass, momentum, species, energy and charge for gas diffusion layers, catalyst layers and the membrane regions are considered. These equations are solved numerically in a single domain, using finite-volume-based computational fluid dynamics technique. Also the effects of four critical parameters that are thermal conductivity of gas diffusion layer, relative humidity, operating temperature and current density on the PEM fuel cell performance is investigated. In low operating temperatures the resistance within the membrane increases and this could cause rapid decrease in potential. High operating temperature would also reduce transport losses and it would lead to increase in electrochemical reaction rate. This could virtually result in decreasing the cell potential due to an increasing water vapor partial pressure and the membrane water dehydration. Another significant result is that the temperature distribution in GDL is almost linear but within membrane is highly non-linear. However at low current density the temperature across all regions of the cell dose not change significantly. The cell potential increases with relative humidity and improved hydration which reduces ohmic losses. Also the temperature within the cell is much higher with reduced GDL thermal conductivities. The numerical model which is developed is validated with published experimental data and the results are in good agreement.

American Journal of Applied Sciences
Volume 6 No. 1, 2009, 101-108


Submitted On: 10 February 2008 Published On: 31 January 2009

How to Cite: Afshari, E. & Jazayeri, S. (2009). Analysis of Heat Transport in a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 6(1), 101-108.

  • 11 Citations



  • PEM fuel cell
  • temperature
  • two-phase
  • single-domain