Due to rapid change in loads during automotive applications, study of dynamic behavior of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells is of paramount importance for their successful deployment in mobile applications. Toward understanding the effects of changes in operating parameters on the transient behavior, this paper presents numerical simulations for a single channel PEM fuel cell undergoing cyclic changes in operating parameters. The objective is to elucidate the complex interaction between power response and complex species (water, hydrogen and oxygen) transport dynamics for applied cyclic changes. This study focuses on studying the transient response of fuel cell for specified changes in operating parameters — voltage, pressure and stoichiometry at the cathode and the anode. Numerical studies are carried out on single-channel PEMFC’s to illustrate the response of power as the operating parameters are subjected to specified changes. The operating parameters are further optimized using a one dimensional physics based model with an objective to match the power requirements of a drive cycle over a defined period of time.

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