Performance of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is highly dependent on water content of the membrane and a humidification scheme becomes a necessity to operate PEFCs at a high efficiency. However, conventional humidification schemes require external humidifiers, which are usually bulky and impractical for portable PEFCs. In this paper we propose an innovative approach for humidification of the polymer electrolyte membrane, using an internally built-in mass (water) exchanger (MX) embedded in the bipolar plates. We present the validation of the concept using a multi-dimensional, isothermal computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solution of the water transport in the proposed MX. An optimal range of operation of the MX is investigated and effects on PEFC performance are studied.

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