A three-dimensional model of a Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell stack is developed. Taking advantage of the geometrical periodicity of a typical stack assembly, the model is used to predict the thermal, humidity, and electrochemical distributions within the fuel cell. Of particular interest is the effect of the compressive force used to assemble the stack on the fuel cell’s (a) power output and (b) internal temperature distribution. Application of non-uniform clamping pressure is considered, and predictions suggest that thermal conditions within the stack can be made more uniform with negligible impact on the fuel cell power. Hence, improved fuel cell stack durability might be achieved through judicious application of non-uniform clamping pressures for stack assembly.

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