Modeling of inhomogeneous compression effects of porous GDL on transport phenomena and performance in PEM fuel cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A comprehensive, three-dimensional model of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell based on a steady state code has been developed. The model is validated and further be applied to investigate the effects of various porosity of the gas diffusion layer (GDL) below channel land areas, on thermal diffusivity, temperature distribution, oxygen diffusion coefficient, oxygen concentration, activation loss and local current density. The porosity variation of the GDL is caused by the clamping force during assembling, in terms of various compression ratios, that is, 0%, 10%, 20%, 30% and 40%. The simulation results show that the higher compression ratio on the GDL leads to lower porosity, and this is helpful for the heat removal from the cell. The compression effects of the GDL below the land areas have a contrary impact on the oxygen diffusion coefficient, oxygen concentration, cathode activation loss, local current density and cell performance. Generally, a lower porosity leads to a smaller oxygen diffusion coefficient, a less uniform oxygen concentration, a higher activation loss, a smaller local current density and worse cell performance. In order to have a better cell performance, the clamping force on the cell should be as low as possible but ensure gas sealing.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Energy Engineering


  • compression ratio, GDL, OpenFOAM, PEM fuel cells, porosity, transport phenomena
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-1003
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 10
Publication categoryResearch