Fuel cells are electrochemical energy conversion devices that convert chemical energy in fuels directly into electrical energy, without the process of combustion. As a result, they are not constrained by the thermodynamic limitations of heat engines and therefore have the potential to achieve higher efficiencies. Various fuel cell types exist, operating from room temperature to over 1000 °C. This paper focuses on two of the leading fuel cell types, namely the lower temperature (80–120 °C) polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) and the higher temperature (500–1000 °C) solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), with particular attention paid to the importance of thermal management and heat transfer in these systems, as it is thermal transients, and the appropriate design of the thermal management sub-system, that frequently limit fuel cell system performance and durability. Two examples of research from the authors’ laboratories are given; the first relates to the measurement and modelling of heat transfer in PEMFCs; the second to the thermal management of SOFCs.

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