A polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell is analyzed by applying the conservation principle to the electrode backing, catalyst layers and polymer electrolyte. The conservation equations used are the conservation of species, momentum and energy, with the Nernst-Planck equation used for the electrolyte. Oxygen reduction at the cathode is modeled using the Butler-Volmer equation while the adsorption, desorption and electro-oxidation of hydrogen and CO at the anode are modeled by the Tafel-Volmer and “reactant-pair” mechanism, respectively. Temperature variations within the cell are minimized by decreasing current density or increasing temperature. An increase in pressure increases the cell voltage at low current density, but decreases the cell voltage at high current density. The electrochemical kinetics model used for the adsorption, desorption and electro-oxidation of hydrogen and CO is validated with published, experimental data.

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