Research Project

DiaPEM : Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Stack Diagnosis System


Regional Project

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Project Description

From the second half of twentieth century, Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) and hydrogen have attracted much attention due to their potential as a clean energy vector for automotive and stationary applications. Market introduction of fuel cells is of the highest priority for Europe due to their impact on the reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Remarkable progress has been made in PEMFC materials, component design, production and system power density during the last decade.

However, PEMFC technologies have not yet reached all the requirements to be economically competitive, in particular regarding their high cost and their relatively low durability. Indeed, there is still significant research to be done in order to understand the different physical phenomena within a working fuel cell and how they need to be controlled in order to improve its performance. This LLAVOR project is dedicated to the proof of concept of an inexpensive PEMFC diagnosis system for future implementation on a small electronic module. The output of this diagnosis system will be the numerical estimation of important internal stack variables i.e. Tafel slope, mass transport overvoltage and membraneresistance that determine the internal fuel cell state in terms of water distribution and explain its voltage losses.

Therefore a novel and cost effective PEMFC diagnosis hardware module design will be created based on a validated methodology.

The prospective customers for this diagnosis system would be automotive and stationary power OEM that would integrate it into their powerplant. The information provided by the diagnosis system would be used by the system controller to improve the operating conditions and thus its performance. This diagnostic module can also be used by fuel cell stack manufacturers for characterization and design improvement. Finally there is also a market for fuel cell researchers for testing and model validation.

This project is a Llavor Initiative from the Generalitat de Catalunya with the support of FEDER (ERDF) funds