PEM Fuel Cells

Theory and Practice


  • Frano Barbir, University of Split, Croatia; Board of Directors, International Hydrogen Association
  • Frano Barbir, Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA

Fuel cells are electrochemical energy conversion devices that convert hydrogen and oxygen into water, producing electricity and heat in the process and providing fuel efficiency and reductions in pollutants. Demand for this technology is growing rapidly. Fuel cells are being commercialized for stationary and portable electricity generation, and as a replacement for internal combustion engines in automobiles. Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells in particular are experiencing an upsurge. They have high power density and can vary their output quickly to meet shifts in power demand. Until now, there has been little written about this important technology. This book lays the groundwork for fuel cell engineers, technicians and students. It covers the fundamental aspects of fuel cell design, electrochemistry of the technology, heat and mass transport, system design and applications to bring this technology to professionals at all levels.
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Engineers and scientists involved in fuel cell engineering; Graduate students in mechanical engineering and/or chemical engineering


Book information

  • Published: June 2005
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-078142-3


"Franco Barbir brings considerable expertise to the subject of PEM fuel cells...of the numerous books on fuel cells I have seen come through our lab in the past few years, I find this on the most useful." - The Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Letter

Table of Contents

ForewardPreface and Acknowledgements1. Introductions1.1 What is a Fuel Cell?1.2 A Very Brief History of Fuel Cells1.3 Types of Fuel Cells1.4 How does a PEM Fuel Cell Work1.5 Why do we Need Fuel Cells1.6 Fuel Cell Applications2. Fuel Cell Basic Chemistry and Thermodynamics2.1 Basic Reactions2.2 Heat of Reaction2.3 Higher and Lower Heating Value of Hydrogen2.4 Theoretical Electrical Work2.5 Theoretical Fuel Cell Potential2.6 Effect of Temperature2.7 Theoretical Fuel Cell Efficiency2.8 Carnot Efficiency Myth2.9 Effect of Pressure2.10 Summary3. Fuel Cell Electrochemistry3.1 Electrode Kinetics3.2 Voltage Losses3.3 Cell Potential – Polarization Curve3.4 Distribution of Potential Across a Fuel Cell3.5 Sensitivity of Parameters in Polarization Curve3.6 Fuel Cell Efficiency3.7 Implications and Use of Fuel Cell Polarization Curve4. Main Cell Components, Materials Properties and Processes4.1 Cell Description4.2 Membrane4.3 Electrode4.4 Gas Diffusion Layer4.5 Bipolar Plates5. Fuel Cell Operating Conditions5.1 Operating Pressure5.2 Operating Temperature5.3 Reactants Flow Rates5.4 Reactants Humidity5.5 Fuel Cell Mass Balance5.6 Fuel Cell Energy Balance6. Stack Design6.1 Sizing of a Fuel Cell Strack6.2 Stack Configuration6.3 Uniform Distribution of Reactants to Each Cell6.4 Uniform Distribution of Reactants Inside Each Cell6.5 Heat Removal from a Fuel Cell Stack6.6 Stack Clamping7. Fuel Cell Modeling7.1 Theory and Governing Equations7.2 Modeling Domains7.3 Modeling Examples7.4 Conclusions8. Fuel Cell Diagnostics8.1 Polarization Curve 8.2 Current Interrupt8.3 AC Impedance Spectroscopy8.4 Pressure Drop as a Diagnostic Tool8.5 Current Density Mapping8.6 Neutron Imaging9. Fuel Cell System Design9.1 Hydrogen-Oxygen Systems9.2 Hydrogen-Air Systems9.3 Fuel Cell Systems with Fuel Processor9.4 Electrical Subsystem9.5 System Efficiency10. Fuel Cell Applications10.1 Transportation Applications10.2 Stationary Power10.3 Backup Power10.4 Fuel Cells for Small Portable Power10.5 Regenerative Fuel Cells and Their Applications11. Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Economy11.1 Introduction11.2 Transitions in Energy Supply11.3 History of Hydrogen as Fuel11.4 Hydrogen Energy System11.5 Hydrogen Energy Technologies11.6 Predicting the Future11.7 Transition to Hydrogen Economy11.8 Coming Energy Revolution?11.9 ConclusionsIndex