PEM Fuel Cell Testing and Diagnosis


  • Jiujun Zhang, Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, National Research Council of Canada, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Jifeng Wu
  • Huamin Zhang
  • Jiujun Zhang

PEM Fuel Cell Testing and Diagnosis covers the recent advances in PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell systems, focusing on instruments and techniques for testing and diagnosis, and the application of diagnostic techniques in practical tests and operation. This book is a unique source of electrochemical techniques for researchers, scientists and engineers working in the area of fuel cells.

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are currently considered the most promising clean energy-converting devices for stationary, transportation, and micro-power applications due to their high energy density, high efficiency, and environmental friendliness. To advance research and development of this emerging technology, testing and diagnosis are an essential combined step. This book aids those efforts, addressing effects of humidity, temperature and pressure on fuel cells, degradation and failure analysis, and design and assembly of MEAs, single cells and stacks.

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Researchers and engineers in electrochemistry and electrochemical engineering, especially in the area of fuel cells


Book information

  • Published: February 2013
  • Imprint: ELSEVIER
  • ISBN: 978-0-444-53688-4


"Jianlu Zhang, Huamin Zhang, Jinfeng Wu, and Jiujun Zhang present this concise technical reference covering basics of PEM design and operation, with an emphasis on diagnostic assessment, troubleshooting, and failure analysis. The book addresses the impact of many real-world factors…"--Reference & Research Book News, October 2013
"While, as the title suggests, the heart of the book describes the various laboratory techniques used to test and evaluate PEM fuel cells, the book encompasses quite a bit more than that…I recommend this book to anyone interested in testing of PEM fuel cells or the materials and components used to build them."--The Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Letter, October 2013

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. PEM fuel cell fundamentals

  1. Electrochemical reaction thermodynamics in H2/air fuel cell
  2. Electrochemical reaction kinetics in H2/air fuel cell
  3. Fuel cell components (catalyst/catalyst layer, GDL, membrane, MEA, flow field, current collector, etc.)
  4. Fuel cell open potential voltage (OCV)
  5. Fuel cell polarization curves
  6. Fuel cell: single cell and stack
  7. Fuel cell MEA and volume power densities
  8. Fuel cell fuel crossovers
  9. Fuel cell efficiencies
  10. Fuel cell operating conditions (temperature, pressure, humidification, gas flow rates, fuel and oxidant stoichiometries, etc.)

Chapter 2. Design and assembly of MEA, single cell, and stack

  1. MEA design and fabrication (catalyst/catalyst layer preparation and MEA bonding)
  2. Flow field design and fabrication
  3. Sealing design and fabrication
  4. Single cell design and assembly
  5. Stack design and assembly

Chapter 3. Techniques used in PEM fuel cell testing and diagnosis

  1. Current or voltage control to obtain current-voltage curves
  2. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS)
  3. Cyclic voltammetry (H2 adsorption/desorption and CO stripping)
  4. Current and temperature mapping
  5. Transparent cell, X-ray imaging, and neutron imaging observation for water flow
  6. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  7. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  8. X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  9. Spatially resolved impedance spectroscopy
  10. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
  11. Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS)



Chapter 4. Temperature Effect on PEM fuel cell kinetics and performance

  1. Anode H2 oxidation on Pt/Pt-Ru catalysts
  2. Cathode O2 reduction on Pt catalyst (two Pt surfaces (PtO and Pt))
  3. Polarization curve analysis by EIS
  4. Exchange current densities and other kinetic parameters
  5. Activation energies
  6. Empirical simulation of I-V/I-P curves
  7. Temperature effect on OCV
  8. Temperature effect on membrane conductivity
  9. Temperature effect on electrode kinetics
  10. Temperature effect on hydrogen crossover
  11. Temperature effect on mass transfer

Chapter 5. Membrane/ionomer proton conductivity measurements

    1. Mechanism of proton conduction
    2. Methods for conductivity measurements
    3. Temperature effect on proton conductivity
    4. Relative humidity/water content effect on proton conductivity

Chapter 6. Hydrogen crossover measurements

  1. Hydrogen crossover theory (model)
  2. Measurements
  3. Data analysis

Chapter 7. Fuel cell open circuit voltage (OCV)

  1. Theoretical OCV
  2. Measured OCV
  3. Mixed potential effect
  4. H2 crossover effect
  5. Membrane thickness effect
  6. Temperature effect

Chapter 8. Relative humidity (RH) effects on PEM fuel cells

  1. Definition of relative humidity
  2. RH effect on membrane conductivity
  3. RH effect on electrode kinetics
  4. RH effect on mass transfer
  5. RH effect on PEM fuel cell performance
  6. Feasibility of fuel cell operation with dry gases

Chapter 9. Pressure effect on PEM fuel cells

  1. Pressure effect on thermodynamics
  2. Pressure effect on mass transfer
  3. Pressure effect on hydrogen crossover
  4. Pressure effect on fuel cell performance

 Chapter 10. High-temperature PEM (HT-PEM) fuel cells

  1. Benefits of HT-PEM fuel cells
  2. Membrane development for HT-PEM fuel cells
  3. Catalyst development for HT-PEM fuel cells
  4. Design of HT-PEM fuel cells
  5. Testing and diagnosis of HT-PEM fuel cells
  6. Challenges of HT-PEM fuel cells

Chapter 11. Fuel cell degradation and failure analysis

1) Failure modes induced by fuel cell operation (OCV/low load, High temperature, high load, and dynamic operation)

2) Membrane failure

a) Mechanical degradation

b) Chemical/electrochemical degradation

c) Thermal degradation

3) Catalyst failure

a) Catalyst degradation

b) Catalyst support degradation

4) Catalyst layer/ionomer interface failure

5) Catalyst layer and gas diffusion layer failure

6) Gasket failure

Chapter 12. Electrochemical half-cells for Evaluating PEM fuel cell catalysts and catalyst layers

1) Conventional three-electrode half-cell

2) Half-cell design to mimic fuel cell electrode situation for liquid fuel oxidation reaction

3) Half-cell design to mimic fuel cell electrode situation for ORR and HOR