Reactant starvation during proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) operation can cause serious irreversible damages. In order to study the detailed local characteristics of starvations, simultaneous measurements of the dynamic variation of local current densities and temperatures in an experimental PEMFC with single serpentine flow field have been performed during both air and hydrogen starvations. These studies have been performed under both current controlled and cell voltage controlled operations. It is found that under current controlled operations cell voltage can decrease very quickly during reactant starvation. Besides, even though the average current is kept constant, local current densities as well as local temperatures can change dramatically. Furthermore, the variation characteristics of local current density and temperature strongly depend on the locations along the flow channel. Local current densities and temperatures near the channel inlet can become very high, especially during hydrogen starvation, posing serious threats for the membrane and catalyst layers near the inlet. When operating in a constant voltage mode, no obvious damaging phenomena were observed except very low and unstable current densities and unstable temperatures near the channel outlet during hydrogen starvation. It is demonstrated that measuring local temperatures can be effective in exploring local dynamic performance of PEMFC and the thermal failure mechanism of MEA during reactants starvations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology