While significant advances in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) technology have taken place in the past decade, challenges still remain in the area of mechanical degradations [1]. Mechanical degradations and damage in PEMFCs including cracks and failure in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) [2–5] can lead directly to fuel crossover, performance degradation, and reduced durability. It is therefore critical to identify and control the mechanisms that can contribute to damage initiation and propagation in the PEMFC. In this work, we investigate the damage propagation in the MEA, with a special focus on the gas diffusion layer (GDL)/catalyst layer (CL) and the membrane/CL interfaces. A numerical cohesive constitutive model is developed to explore the effect of geometry, the material properties of each component, and the location of the delamination on the propagation behaviour of through-plane delaminations.

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