Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells : Physical Principles of Materials and Operation book cover
1st Edition

Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
Physical Principles of Materials and Operation

ISBN 9781138077447
Published March 29, 2017 by CRC Press
582 Pages 184 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The book provides a systematic and profound account of scientific challenges in fuel cell research. The introductory chapters bring readers up to date on the urgency and implications of the global energy challenge, the prospects of electrochemical energy conversion technologies, and the thermodynamic and electrochemical principles underlying the operation of polymer electrolyte fuel cells. The book then presents the scientific challenges in fuel cell research as a systematic account of distinct components, length scales, physicochemical processes, and scientific disciplines.

The main part of the book focuses on theory and modeling. Theoretical tools and approaches, applied to fuel cell research, are presented in a self-contained manner. Chapters are arranged by different fuel cell materials and components, and sections advance through the hierarchy of scales, starting from molecular-level processes in proton-conducting media or electrocatalytic systems and ending with performance issues at the device level, including electrochemical performance, water management, durability, and analysis of failure mechanisms.

Throughout, the book gives numerous examples of formidable scientific challenges as well as of tools to facilitate materials design and development of diagnostic methods. It reveals reserves for performance improvements and uncovers misapprehensions in scientific understanding that have misled or may continue to mislead technological development. An indispensable resource for scientifically minded and practically oriented researchers, this book helps industry leaders to appreciate the contributions of fundamental research, and leaders of fundamental research to appreciate the needs of industry.

Table of Contents




Global Energy Challenge

Towards an Age of Electrochemistry

Energy Conversion in Chemistry, Biology, and Electrochemistry

Principles of Electrochemical Energy Conversion

Sleeping Beauty: 100 Years Is Not Enough!

Polarization Curves and "Moore's Law" of Fuel Cells

About This Book

Basic Concepts

Fuel Cell Principle and Basic Layout

Fuel Cell Thermodynamics

Mass Transport Processes


Heat Production and Transport

Brief Discourse on Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis

Key Materials in PEFC: Polymer Electrolyte Membrane

Key Materials in PEFC: Porous Composite Electrodes

Performance of Type I Electrodes

Space Scales in Fuel Cell Modeling

Polymer Electrolyte Membranes


State of Understanding Polymer Electrolyte Membranes

The Theory and Modeling of Structure Formation in PEMs

Water Sorption and Swelling of PEMs

Proton Transport

Electro-Osmotic Drag

Concluding Remarks

Catalyst Layer Structure and Operation

Powerhouses of PEM Fuel Cells

Theory and Modeling of Porous Electrodes

How to Evaluate Structure of CCL?

State-of-the-Art in Theory and Modeling: Multiple Scales

Nanoscale Phenomena in Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis

Electrocatalysis of the Oxygen Reduction Reaction at Platinum

ORR in Water-Filled Nanopores: Electrostatic Effects

Structure Formation in Catalyst Layers and Effective Properties

Structural Model and Effective Properties of Conventional CCL

Concluding Remarks

Modeling of Catalyst Layer Performance

Framework of Catalyst Layer Performance Modeling

Model of Transport and Reaction in Cathode

MHM with Constant Coefficients: Analytical Solutions

Ideal Proton Transport

Ideal Oxygen Transport

Weak Oxygen Transport Limitation

Polarization Curves for Small to Medium Oxygen Transport Loss

Remarks to Sections 4.4-4.7

Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Electrodes

Optimal Catalyst Layer

Heat Flux from the Catalyst Layer



PEM in Fuel Cell Modeling

Dynamic Water Sorption and Flux in PEMs

Membrane in Fuel Cell Modeling

Performance Modeling of a Fuel Cell

Impedance Model of a Single Water-Filled Nanopore

Physical Modeling of Catalyst Layer Impedance

Impedance of the Cathode Side of a PEM Fuel Cell

Carbon Corrosion due to Feed Maldistribution

Dead Spots in the PEM Fuel Cell Anode






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Dr. Andrei Kulikovsky graduated from the Faculty of Theoretical and Experimental Physics of the Moscow Engineering–Physical Institute, one of the leading schools in physical sciences in the former USSR. In 1984, he obtained his PhD from the Institute for High Temperatures of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1998, he received the Doctor of Sciences (Research Professor) degree in physics and mathematics from the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. While working in Russia, his main research interests were in the field of modeling of gas discharge plasmas. In 1998, Andrei moved to the Forschungszentrum Juelich (Research Centre Juelich), Germany, where Alexei Kornyshev engaged him into modeling of fuel cells, cell components, and stacks. Over the past 15 years, Andrei has published more than 80 research papers in high-ranked electrochemical journals; most of these papers have a sole author. In 2010, he published a book Analytical Modeling of Fuel Cells (Elsevier), which was the first monograph on theory and modeling of fuel cells. His current research interests include modeling of low-, intermediate-, and high-temperature fuel cells, catalyst layers, macroscopic modeling of aging processes and defects in cells, analytical study of the transport and kinetic processes in cells and stacks, and impedance spectroscopy of cells. Andrei’s work has always been focused on the development of simple analytical models, aiming at understanding the phenomena of interest.

Michael Eikerling is a professor of theoretical chemical physics and electrochemical materials science at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Over the past 10 years, he has also led activities in physical modeling of fuel cells at the National Research Council of Canada. Michael Eikerling received his diploma in theoretical condensed matter physics from RWTH Aachen (Germany) in 1995. He obtained his doctoral degree from the Technical University of Munich in 1999 for a dissertation on theoretical chemical physics of polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Prior to joining Simon Fraser University in 2003, he spent periods as a research associate at Research Center Jülich, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and TU München. His main scientific contributions are in the theory and modeling of electrochemical systems, with a focus on materials and processes in polymer electrolyte fuel cells. This prioritization is owed to the fuel cell cluster in the Vancouver region, which holds a globally recognized reputation as a center of excellence in the field. Moreover, he has a general interest in energy science and its implications for societal development. Research interests in the Eikerling group span a diverse range of fundamental as well as applied topics, encompassing transport phenomena at interfaces and in polymeric materials, theory and modeling of electrocatalytic phenomena, self-organization in electrochemical materials, statistical physics of heterogeneous media, porous electrode theory, advanced electrochemical diagnostics, fuel cell design, and performance modeling. The group disposes of extensive expertise in molecular modeling, physical theory, and continuum modeling. It interacts extensively with experimental groups in academia and industry. In addition to leadership and executive roles in pan-Canadian and international research networks, Michael Eikerling engages strongly in activities of the international scientific community.


"This is a great book for people who are interested in learning how fuel cells work from electrochemical, polymer physics, and transport perspectives. The authors have organized these areas in an integrated way and with a balance between science and design. ... Overall, this is a nice reference book that I would recommend for students, engineers, and researchers in the field."
—SuPing Lyu, Principal Researcher, Medtronic, Inc., Mounds View, Minnesota, USA, from MRS Bulletin, Volume 40, Issue 06, June 2015

"The presented material clearly distinguishes itself from the common engineering focus of many other fuel cell books. It is unique in its scientific approach and provides rigorous scientific explanations and insight into the functionality of fuel cells. … I like the fact that the authors focus on the two key domains of PEM fuel cells, namely membranes and catalyst layers, where major challenges in materials science remain. It…fills a critical gap in the fuel cell literature. … In fact, [chapter one] provides the best overview of PEM fuel cell concepts that I have seen in any book. I would expect that this chapter alone will be cited by other researchers many times in the future. … This book belongs on the shelf of everyone seriously interested in the scientific concepts of PEM fuel cells. It stands out as a rigorous and comprehensive discussion of the functionality of polymer electrolyte membranes and catalyst layers. It provides an excellent overview of modelling approaches regarding membranes and catalyst layers."
—Dr. Peter Berg, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim

"The book does an excellent job of developing understanding from basic principles to the more complicated aspects of fuel science. This book will have utility for those just starting out in the field or those that are already immersed in the science of fuel cells."
—David P. Wilkinson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada