Dynamics Management of Intermediate Water Storage in an Air-Breathing Single-Cell Membrane Electrode Assembly

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In air-breathing proton exchange membrane fuel cells (Air PEM FCs), a high rate of water evaporation from the cathode might influence the resistance of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which is highly dependent on the water content of the Nafion membrane. We propose a dead-end hydrogen anode as a means of intermediate storage of water/humidity for self-humidification of the membrane. Such an inflatable bag integrated with a single lightweight MEA FC has the potential in blimp applications for anode self-humidification. A dynamic numerical water balance model, validated by experimental measurements, is derived to predict the effect of MEA configuration, and the membrane’s hydration state and water transfer rate at the anode on MEA resistance and performance. The experimental setup included humidity measurements, and polarization and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy tests to quantify the effect of membrane hydration on its resistance in a lightweight MEA (12 g) integrated with an inflatable dead-end hydrogen storage bag. Varying current densities (5, 10, and 15 mA/cm2) and cathode humidity levels (20, 50, and 80%) were examined and compared with the numerical results. The validated model predicts that the hydration state of the membrane and water transfer rate at the anode can be increased by using a thin membrane and thicker gas diffusion layer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • air breathing
  • anode self-humidification
  • humidity
  • hydration state
  • hydrogen fuel cell
  • inflatable hydrogen storage system
  • membrane electrode assembly
  • proton exchange membrane
  • water content
  • water storage


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