PEM Fuel Cells

Theory and Practice


  • Frano Barbir, University of Split, Croatia; Board of Directors, International Hydrogen Association

Demand for fuel cell technology is growing rapidly. Fuel cells are being commercialized to provide power to buildings like hospitals and schools, to replace batteries in portable electronic devices, and as replacements for internal combustion engines in vehicles. PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cells are lighter, smaller, and more efficient than other types of fuel cell. As a result, over 80% of fuel cells being produced today are PEM cells.

This new edition of Dr. Barbir’s groundbreaking book still lays the groundwork for engineers, technicians and students better than any other resource, covering fundamentals of design, electrochemistry, heat and mass transport, as well as providing the context of system design and applications. Yet it now also provides invaluable information on the latest advances in modeling, diagnostics, materials, and components, along with an updated chapter on the evolving applications areas wherein PEM cells are being deployed. 

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Renewable Energy Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Government Researchers and Policy Makers, Engineering Students


Book information

  • Published: September 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-387710-9


"Of the numerous books on fuel cells I have seen come through our lab in the past few years, I find this one the most useful…I’m already planning to incorporate many items I have gleaned from this book into my public and classroom presentations on hydrogen energy." - Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Letter, September 2005
PEM Fuel Cells "are the primary candidates for light-duty vehicles, for buildings, and potentially for much smaller applications such as replacements for rechargeable batteries in video cameras." - United States Department of Energy

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