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Analysis of the operating pressure and GDL geometrical configuration effect on PEM fuel cell performance


In this paper, a proton-exchange membrane fuel cell is numerically and experimentally studied. In this work, the effect of increasing both the cathode and anode side operating pressure on cell performance is numerically predicted and verified by empirical test. Both results indicate that the proficiency of cell enhances by increasing the operating pressure. Additionally, in the following we investigated numerically and experimentally, the effect of posing the single prominence on the GDLs amid of the gas flow channels. The result indicates the noticeable increase in current density at the similar cell voltages, in comparison with base model. To validate the numerical procedure and experimental tests, the results of present investigation exhibit proper accordance with experimental data.

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a :

Water activity

C :

Molar concentration (mol m−3)

D :

Mass diffusion coefficient (m2 s−1)

F :

Faraday constant (C mol−1)

I :

Local current density (A m−2)

J :

Exchange current density (A m−2)

K :

Permeability (m2)

M :

Molecular mass (kg mol−1)

n d :

Electro-osmotic drag coefficient

P :

Pressure (Pa)

R :

Universal gas constant (J mol−1 K−1)

T :

Temperature (K)

t :


u :

Velocity vector

V cell :

Cell voltage

V oc :

Open-circuit voltage

W :


X :

Mole fraction

\(\alpha\) :

Water transfer coefficient

\(\varepsilon^{{\text{eff}}}\) :

Effective porosity

\(\rho\) :

Density (kg m−3)

\(\varphi_{\text{e}}\) :

Electrolyte phase potential (varies from −1 to 1) (v)

\(\mu\) :

Viscosity (kg m−1 s−1)

\(\sigma_{m}\) :

Membrane conductivity (1 ohm−1 m−1)

\(\lambda\) :

Water content in the membrane

\(\zeta\) :

Stoichiometric ratio

\(\eta\) :

Over potential (v)

\(\lambda_{eff}\) :

Effective thermal conductivity (w m−1 k−1)








Chemical species




Membrane electrolyte assembly


Reference value






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Correspondence to Nima Ahmadi.

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Technical Editor: Marcio S Carvalho.

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Ahmadi, N., Dadvand, A., Rezazadeh, S. et al. Analysis of the operating pressure and GDL geometrical configuration effect on PEM fuel cell performance. J Braz. Soc. Mech. Sci. Eng. 38, 2311–2325 (2016).

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  • Geometrical configuration
  • GDL prominence
  • CFD
  • Current density