Investigation of the Effects of Catalyst Loading and Gas Flow Rate on Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (Pem) Fuel Cell Performance and Degradation


In this paper, the effects of gas flow rates and catalyst loading on polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) performance was investigated using a 50 cm2 active area fuel cell fixture with serpentine flow field channels machined into poco graphite blocks. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with catalyst and gas flow rates at two levels each (0.5 mg/cm2 , 1 mg/cm2 ; 0.3 l/min, 0.5 l/min, respectively) were tested at 60?°C without humidification. The cell performance was analyzed by taking ac impedance, Tafel plot, open circuit voltage, and area specific resistance measurements. It was observed that MEAs with lower gas flow rate had lesser cell resistance compared to MEAs with a higher gas flow rate. Tafel plot shows the highest exchange current density value of 10? 2.05 mA cm2 for MEA with 0.5 mg/cm2 catalyst loading tested at reactant gas flow rate of 0.3 l/min signifying it had the least activation loss and fastest reaction rate. Open circuit voltage-time curve shows a higher output voltage and lesser voltage decay rate for MEAs tested at higher gas flow rates.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center

Keywords and Phrases

Electrical Resistance; Impedance (Electricity); Gas Flow; Fuel Cells; Catalysts; Circuits; Electrical Potential; Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells; Electrodes; Flow (Dynamics)

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2011 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2011