A computational fluid dynamics model is developed to study the effect of cationic contamination on the performance of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC). The fuel cell model incorporates mass, species, momentum and heat balances along with the ionic and electronic charge conservations. To model the transport of the cationic species, Nernst-Planck equations are used while taking into consideration of local electroneutrality in the ionomer phase. The diffusive fluxes of the cations are implemented in the Nernst-Planck equations such that they take into account adsorption of the species. A steady-state analysis is carried out to address the effects of contamination on the operating fuel cell performance. It is observed that contamination significantly reduces the output power density of the PEFC by occupying the available charge sites inside the ionomer.

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