Gas diffusion layers are one of the important parts of the PEM fuel cell as they serve to transport to transport the reactant gases to the catalyst layer. Porosity of this layer has a large effect on the PEM fuel cell performance. The spatial variation in porosity arises due to two effects: 1. Compression of the electrode on the solid landing areas and 2. Water produced at the cathode side of gas diffusion layers. Both of these factors change the porosity of gas diffusion layers affects fuel cell performance. To implement this performance analysis, a mathematical model which considers oxygen and hydrogen mass fraction in gas diffusion layer and the electrical current density in the catalyst layer, and the fuel cell potentials is investigated. The porosity variation in the GDL is calculated by considering the applied pressure and the amount of the water generated in the cell. The validity of the model is assessed by comparing the computed results with experimental data. The obtained results show that the decrease in the average porosity causes the reduction in oxygen consumption, so that a lower electrical current density is generated. It is also shown that when the electrical current density is low, the porosity variation in gas diffusion layer has no significant influence on the level of polarization whereas at higher current density the influence is very significant. The porosity variation causes non-uniformity in the mass transport which in turn reduces the current density and a lower fuel cell performance is obtained.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.