A new conceptual structure of the gas distributors in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) or proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells is developed in this work. Basically, instead of partitioned channels and non-interrupted walls, the proposed new gas distributors make use of discretized elements as the current collector in the flow fields, which can help to enhance the mass transfer in the gas flow fields while maintaining the function of transmitting current out of the fuel cell. Experimental operation without external humidification of the reactant gases for single PEM fuel cells and cell stacks using conventional and the currently presented gas distributors were conducted for comparison and verification. It was found that the maximum operational cell current, beyond which there is a sharp drop of the cell voltage, could be significantly improved when using the currently proposed gas distributors and the same membrane-electrode-assembly (MEA) sheets. Correspondingly, the output electrical power can have at least 11 percent increment for the operation with free-convective airflow and around 50 percent increment for the operation with forced convective airflow.

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