With the goal of on-line diagnosis for automotive applications in mind, a real-time model of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell is developed. The model draws from the authors’ previous modeling effort in this area and extends its domain to incorporate transport under the lands. Transport in the catalyst and micro-porous layers, which were previously omitted, are also included in the model. Membrane water transport model is modified accordingly. Moreover, a recently developed homogeneous catalyst layer model is used to describe local oxygen transport resistance in the cathode catalyst layer. Computational efficiency is achieved through spatio-temporal decoupling of the problem, which simplifies the handling of the nonlinear terms. This computational efficiency is demonstrated by a set of simulations that resemble operation under conditions encountered in automotive applications. Moreover, simulation results of the model are in qualitative agreement with earlier computationally intensive modeling studies as well as experimental observations. The current modeling study demonstrates a significant potential for using relatively high-fidelity physics-based models on-line to improve fuel cell performance and durability, which can have a profound impact on its commercialization.

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