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Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "D2: Electrochem: Batteries, Fuel Cells, Capacitors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 April 2024) | Viewed by 14974

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Special Issue Editors

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Split, Rudjera Boškovića 32, 21000 Split, Croatia
Interests: fuel cells; computational fluid dynamics; mathematical modeling; flow field design; dynamic models of fuel cells; continuum models; water and heat management; temporally and spatially resolved fuel cell performance monitoring; development of novel sensors and monitoring equipment for fuel cells; graded design of fuel cells; engineering thermodynamics; hydrogen energy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK
Interests: proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells; CO2 capture; utilization and storage (CCUS); photocatalysis; data-driven machine learning; numerical modelling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Due to increased political and economic interest towards green energy sources, hydrogen obtained from renewable energy sources presents itself as the most probable clean energy carrier of the near future. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are electrochemical converters used to generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen with only by-products of heat and water. Due to favorable characteristics, proton exchange membrane fuel cells are considered the most probable automotive power source due to significant advantages and simplified system design when compared to internal combustion engines and batteries. Nevertheless, fuel cells still require significant amounts of research and development to ensure higher durability, decrease system complexity, improve dynamic performance, and reduce production costs. Reductions in the system complexity and costs can be achieved by carefully designing the fuel cell system in such a manner that the generated water and heat are distributed evenly and in a controllable manner, resulting in increased durability, higher specific power, and dynamic performance, and consequently minimized overall size, complexity and cost of the system. Due to complex mass and heat transfer reactions transpiring during the operation of the fuel cell, computer simulations are indispensable for the analysis and interpretation of highly intertwined processes within this electrochemical device. By tackling the aforementioned problems, this Special Issue focuses on Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells. The topics of interest for publication include but are not limited to:

  • Development of validated steady-state, dynamic, and multi-scale models of fuel cells
  • Development of flow fields for improved performance of fuel cells
  • Development of techniques for utilization of the generated water and heat
  • Development of models and experimental setups of fuel cell stacks
  • Development of membrane-electrode assemblies for improved performance of fuel cells
  • Development of micro and biological fuel cells
  • Development of fuel cell monitoring systems and sensors

Dr. Željko Penga
Dr. Lei Xing
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • PEM fuel cells
  • single cell and stack development
  • flow fields
  • water and heat management
  • improved performance of fuel cells
  • multiscale modeling and validation
  • steady-state and dynamic performance
  • micro and biological fuel cells
  • fuel cell sensors
  • fuel cell monitoring system

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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21 pages, 5389 KiB  
Article
PEMFC Electrochemical Degradation Analysis of a Fuel Cell Range-Extender (FCREx) Heavy Goods Vehicle after a Break-In Period
by Jia-Di Yang, Theo Suter, Jason Millichamp, Rhodri E. Owen, Wenjia Du, Paul R. Shearing, Dan J. L. Brett and James B. Robinson
Energies 2024, 17(12), 2980; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17122980 - 17 Jun 2024
Viewed by 429
Abstract
With the increasing focus on decarbonisation of the transport sector, it is imperative to consider routes to electrify vehicles beyond those achievable using lithium-ion battery technology. These include heavy goods vehicles and aerospace applications that require propulsion systems that can provide gravimetric energy [...] Read more.
With the increasing focus on decarbonisation of the transport sector, it is imperative to consider routes to electrify vehicles beyond those achievable using lithium-ion battery technology. These include heavy goods vehicles and aerospace applications that require propulsion systems that can provide gravimetric energy densities, which are more likely to be delivered by fuel cell systems. While the discussion of light-duty vehicles is abundant in the literature, heavy goods vehicles are under-represented. This paper presents an overview of the electrochemical degradation of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell integrated into a simulated Class 8 heavy goods range-extender fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle operating in urban driving conditions. Electrochemical degradation data such as polarisation curves, cyclic voltammetry values, linear sweep voltammetry values, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy values were collected and analysed to understand the expected degradation modes in this application. In this application, the proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack power was designed to remain constant to fulfil the mission requirements, with dynamic and peak power demands managed by lithium-ion batteries, which were incorporated into the hybridised powertrain. A single fuel cell or battery cell can either be operated at maximum or nominal power demand, allowing four operational scenarios: maximum fuel cell maximum battery, maximum fuel cell nominal battery, nominal fuel cell maximum battery, and nominal fuel cell nominal battery. Operating scenarios with maximum fuel cell operating power experienced more severe degradation after endurance testing than nominal operating power. A comparison of electrochemical degradation between these operating scenarios was analysed and discussed. By exploring the degradation effects in proton exchange membrane fuel cells, this paper offers insights that will be useful in improving the long-term performance and durability of proton exchange membrane fuel cells in heavy-duty vehicle applications and the design of hybridised powertrains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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19 pages, 6148 KiB  
Article
Temperature Control of Fuel Cell Based on PEI-DDPG
by Zichen Lu and Ying Yan
Energies 2024, 17(7), 1728; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17071728 - 4 Apr 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 769
Abstract
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) constitute nonlinear systems that are challenging to model accurately. Therefore, a controller with robustness and adaptability is imperative for temperature control within the PEMFC stack. This paper introduces a data-driven controller utilizing deep reinforcement learning for stack [...] Read more.
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) constitute nonlinear systems that are challenging to model accurately. Therefore, a controller with robustness and adaptability is imperative for temperature control within the PEMFC stack. This paper introduces a data-driven controller utilizing deep reinforcement learning for stack temperature control. Given the PEMFC system’s characteristics, such as nonlinearity, uncertainty, and environmental conditions, we propose a novel deep reinforcement learning algorithm—the deep deterministic policy gradient with priority experience playback and importance sampling method (PEI-DDPG). Algorithm design incorporates technologies such as priority experience playback, importance sampling, and optimized sample data storage structure, enhancing the controller’s performance. Simulation results demonstrate the proposed algorithm’s superior effectiveness in temperature control for PEMFC, leveraging the PEI-DDPG algorithm’s high adaptability and robustness. The proposed algorithm’s effectiveness is additionally validated on the RT-LAB experimental platform. The proposed PEI-DDPG algorithm reduces the average adjustment time by 8.3%, 17.13%, and 24.56% and overshoots by 2.12 times, 4.16 times, and 4.32 times compared to the TD3, GA-PID, and PID algorithms, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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27 pages, 7627 KiB  
Article
A Control-Oriented Model for Predicting Variations in Membrane Water Content of an Open-Cathode Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell
by Adwoa S. Adunyah, Harshal A. Gawli and Carrie M. Hall
Energies 2024, 17(4), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17040831 - 9 Feb 2024
Viewed by 877
Abstract
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells have emerged as a viable alternative energy production source for stationary and transportation applications. Reliable and sustainable fuel cell operation requires effective water management. Membrane water content can vary along the stack during transients which can lead [...] Read more.
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells have emerged as a viable alternative energy production source for stationary and transportation applications. Reliable and sustainable fuel cell operation requires effective water management. Membrane water content can vary along the stack during transients which can lead to losses in fuel cell performance. To control these variations, a model that predicts the internal humidity dynamics of the stack is needed. In this study, a control-oriented model for predicting membrane water content variation was developed and implemented in MATLAB/Simulink. A lumped parameter model was initially developed and then further discretized into smaller control volumes to track humidity distribution along the stack. To validate the model’s predictions, the predicted results were compared to computer simulation results from GT-Suite. The root mean square error (RMSE) between the model’s prediction and GT-Suite’s simulation results was found to be within 1.5 membrane water content for all cases, demonstrating the model’s capability to capture the variation in membrane water content along the stack. The developed model will be useful for real-time control of membrane water content distribution in PEM fuel cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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15 pages, 4027 KiB  
Article
Numerical Simulation of Double Layered Wire Mesh Integration on the Cathode for a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)
by Pandu Ranga Tirumalasetti, Fang-Bor Weng, Mangaliso Menzi Dlamini and Chia-Hung Chen
Energies 2024, 17(2), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17020278 - 5 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
The optimization of reactant and product mass transfer within fuel cells stands as a critical determinant for achieving optimal fuel-cell performance. With a specific focus on stationary applications, this study delves into the comprehensive examination of fuel-cell mass transfer properties, employing a sophisticated [...] Read more.
The optimization of reactant and product mass transfer within fuel cells stands as a critical determinant for achieving optimal fuel-cell performance. With a specific focus on stationary applications, this study delves into the comprehensive examination of fuel-cell mass transfer properties, employing a sophisticated blend of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and the innovative design of a double-layered wire mesh (DLWM) as a flow field and gas diffusion layer. The investigation notably contrasts a meticulously developed 3D fine mesh flow field with a numerical model of the integrated DLWM implemented on the cathode end of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). Evaluations reveal that the 3D fine mesh experiences a notable threefold increase in pressure drop compared to the DLWM flow field, indicative of the enhanced efficiency achieved by the DLWM configuration. Oxygen distribution analyses further underscore the promising performance of both the 3D fine mesh and the proposed DLWM, with the DLWM showcasing additional improvements in water removal capabilities within the cell. Impressively, the DLWM attains a remarkable maximum current density of 2137.17 mA/cm2 at 0.55 V, indicative of its superior performance over the 3D fine mesh, while also demonstrating the potential for cost-effectiveness and scalability in mass production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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20 pages, 10449 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Stack Configurations on the Thermal Management Capabilities of Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells
by Youchan Kim, Kisung Lim, Hassan Salihi, Seongku Heo and Hyunchul Ju
Energies 2024, 17(1), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17010125 - 25 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1440
Abstract
In this study, we analyze the impacts of various stack configurations of a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) that includes U-type and Z-type stack structures as well as co-flow and counter-flow configurations. The primary focus of this study is to analyze the impact [...] Read more.
In this study, we analyze the impacts of various stack configurations of a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) that includes U-type and Z-type stack structures as well as co-flow and counter-flow configurations. The primary focus of this study is to analyze the impact of these SOEC stack configurations on the temperature distribution within the stack and the temperature variations of key components. Furthermore, by predicting the thermal stress and thermal deformation of individual SOEC components, the study can provide design guidelines for enhancing the durability of the SOEC stack. Among various SOEC stack configurations, the counter-flow design outperformed others in temperature uniformity and component temperature variation. The Z-type stack structure slightly surpassed the U-type in flow uniformity, while both had a minimal influence on thermal management. Besides conventional flow-field configurations, such as the parallel flow field, we introduce a metal-foam-based flow-field design and analyze the effects of using metal foam to ensure flow uniformity within the stack and achieve temperature uniformity. The metal foam design has a lower average temperature (2–5 °C) and ∆T (4–7 °C) compared to the parallel flow field in each cell, but this improvement is accompanied by a substantial pressure-drop: 2359.3 Pa for vapor flow (11.7 times higher) and 4409.0 Pa for air flow (4.6 times higher). Additionally, structural analysis was performed using CFD temperature data. The co-flow configuration induced higher thermal stress at the front of the stack, whereas the counter-flow configuration mitigated thermal stress in the front cells. The metal foam structure consistently demonstrated a reduction in thermal stress across all cells by about 1 MPa, highlighting its potential to alleviate thermal stress in SOEC stacks. This study presents a novel CFD analysis approach for a 10-cell SOEC stack, enabling the development of an optimized stack design with improved heat and flow distribution. The integrated CFD–FEM analysis provides reliable thermal stress data that elucidates the correlation between temperature and stress distributions within the stack. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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12 pages, 5967 KiB  
Article
Photometric Method to Determine Membrane Degradation in Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
by Mathias Heidinger, Eveline Kuhnert, Kurt Mayer, Daniel Sandu, Viktor Hacker and Merit Bodner
Energies 2023, 16(4), 1957; https://doi.org/10.3390/en16041957 - 16 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1996
Abstract
A new method for measuring membrane degradation in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is proposed. The method is based on the detection of fluoride ions in effluent water from the cathode- and anode outlet of the PEFC using photometry (PM). The fluoride emission [...] Read more.
A new method for measuring membrane degradation in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is proposed. The method is based on the detection of fluoride ions in effluent water from the cathode- and anode outlet of the PEFC using photometry (PM). The fluoride emission rate (FER) is an indicator of the membrane’s state of health (SoH) and can be used to measure the chemical membrane degradation. Commercial catalyst-coated membranes (CCMs) have been tested at 80 °C and 90 °C at 30% relative humidity (RH) to investigate the reliability of the developed method for fuel cell effluent samples. To verify the measurement, a mean-difference plot was created by measuring the same data with a fluorine selective electrode. The average difference was at ±0.13 nmol h−1 cm−2, which indicates good agreement between the two methods. These new findings imply that PM is a promising method for quick and simple assessment of membrane degradation in PEM technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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14 pages, 5359 KiB  
Article
A Tortuosity Engineered Dual-Microporous Layer Electrode Including Graphene Aerogel Enabling Largely Improved Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Performance with High-Concentration Fuel
by Li Guan, Prabhuraj Balakrishnan, Huiyuan Liu, Weiqi Zhang, Yilin Deng, Huaneng Su, Lei Xing, Željko Penga and Qian Xu
Energies 2022, 15(24), 9388; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15249388 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1515
Abstract
Methanol crossover is an important factor affecting the performance of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). In this work, a novel membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is designed and prepared by adding a layer of graphene aerogel (GA) between the carbon powder microporous layer and [...] Read more.
Methanol crossover is an important factor affecting the performance of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). In this work, a novel membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is designed and prepared by adding a layer of graphene aerogel (GA) between the carbon powder microporous layer and the catalytic layer, which optimizes the methanol transport and improves the output performance of DMFC at high methanol concentrations. Compared to conventional carbon powder, the addition of GA increases the tortuosity of the anode in the through-plane direction; hence, methanol is diluted to a suitable concentration when it reaches the catalyst. The maximum power density of the novel MEA can reach 27.4 mW·cm−2 at a condition of 8 M methanol, which is 234% higher than that of the conventional electrode. The test results of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) indicate that the addition of GA does not increase the internal resistance of the novel MEA and that the mass transfer resistance at high concentrations is significantly lower. The experimental results indicate that the output performance at high concentration can be significantly improved by adding a GA layer, and its practicability in portable devices can be improved. It also improves the stability of DMFC under long-term testing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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31 pages, 11025 KiB  
Article
Numerical Analysis on Impact of Thickness of PEM and GDL with and without MPL on Coupling Phenomena in PEFC Operated at Higher Temperature Such as 363 K and 373 K
by Akira Nishimura, Kyohei Toyoda, Daiki Mishima, Syogo Ito and Eric Hu
Energies 2022, 15(16), 5936; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15165936 - 16 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1479
Abstract
The aim of this study is to clarify the impact of the thickness of a gas diffusion layer (GDL) and a micro porous layer (MPL) on the distributions of gas, H2O, and current density in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to clarify the impact of the thickness of a gas diffusion layer (GDL) and a micro porous layer (MPL) on the distributions of gas, H2O, and current density in a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) which is operated at 363 K and 373 K and with various thicknesses of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) as well as a relative humidity (RH) of supply gas. These investigations are carried out by numerical simulation using the 3D model with COMSOL Multiphysics. In the case of Nafion 115, which is the thicker PEM, the change in the molar concentration of H2O from the inlet to the outlet with MPL is larger than that without MPL irrespective of the thickness of GDL, Tini and RH condition. In the case of Nafion NRE-212, which is the thinner PEM, the change in the molar concentration of H2O from the inlet to the outlet is larger with MPL than that without MPL in the case of TGP-H-060 (the thicker commercial GDL), while that is smaller with MPL than that without MPL in the case of TGP-H-030 (the thinner commercial GDL). These results exhibit the same tendency as the results of the numerical simulation on the current density. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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Review

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27 pages, 5352 KiB  
Review
A Review of Proton Exchange Membrane Degradation Pathways, Mechanisms, and Mitigation Strategies in a Fuel Cell
by Dharmjeet Madhav, Junru Wang, Rajesh Keloth, Jorben Mus, Frank Buysschaert and Veerle Vandeginste
Energies 2024, 17(5), 998; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17050998 - 20 Feb 2024
Viewed by 2878
Abstract
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) have the potential to tackle major challenges associated with fossil fuel-sourced energy consumption. Nafion, a perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) membrane that has high proton conductivity and good chemical stability, is a standard proton exchange membrane (PEM) used in [...] Read more.
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) have the potential to tackle major challenges associated with fossil fuel-sourced energy consumption. Nafion, a perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) membrane that has high proton conductivity and good chemical stability, is a standard proton exchange membrane (PEM) used in PEMFCs. However, PEM degradation is one of the significant issues in the long-term operation of PEMFCs. Membrane degradation can lead to a decrease in the performance and the lifespan of PEMFCs. The membrane can degrade through chemical, mechanical, and thermal pathways. This paper reviews the different causes of all three routes of PFSA degradation, underlying mechanisms, their effects, and mitigation strategies. A better understanding of different degradation pathways and mechanisms is valuable in producing robust fuel cell membranes. Hence, the progress in membrane fabrication for PEMFC application is also explored and summarized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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24 pages, 1750 KiB  
Review
State of the Art and Environmental Aspects of Plant Microbial Fuel Cells’ Application
by Roman Lepikash, Daria Lavrova, Devard Stom, Valery Meshalkin, Olga Ponamoreva and Sergey Alferov
Energies 2024, 17(3), 752; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17030752 - 5 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1267
Abstract
Environmental pollution is becoming ubiquitous; it has a negative impact on ecosystem diversity and worsens the quality of human life. This review discusses the possibility of applying the plant microbial fuel cells (PMFCs) technology for concurrent processes of electricity generation and the purification [...] Read more.
Environmental pollution is becoming ubiquitous; it has a negative impact on ecosystem diversity and worsens the quality of human life. This review discusses the possibility of applying the plant microbial fuel cells (PMFCs) technology for concurrent processes of electricity generation and the purification of water and soil ecosystems from organic pollutants, particularly from synthetic surfactants and heavy metals. The review describes PMFCs’ functioning mechanisms and highlights the issues of PMFCs’ environmental application. Generally, this work summarizes different approaches to PMFC development and to the potential usage of such hybrid bioelectrochemical systems for environmental protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell)
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