Numerical Investigation of Mechanical Durability in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells Academic Article uri icon


  • The relationship between the mechanical behavior and water transport in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is numerically investigated. Swelling plays a key role in the mechanical response of the MEA during fuel cell operation because swelling can be directly linked to the development of stresses. Thus, in the model introduced here, the stresses and the water distribution are coupled. Two membranes are studied: unreinforced perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) and an experimental reinforced composite membrane. The results suggest that open-circuit voltage operations lead to a uniform distribution of stresses and plastic deformation, whereas under current-load operation, the stresses and the plastic deformation are generally lower and localized at the cathode side of the MEA. For the experimental reinforced membrane investigated, the in-plane swelling and, consequently, the stresses and plastic deformation are lower than in an unreinforced PFSA membrane. This reduction is a favorable outcome for improving durability. The model also suggests that the mechanical constraints due to the clamping of the cell may limit the swelling of the membrane and consequently change the water distribution. 2010 The Electrochemical Society.

published proceedings

  • Journal of The Electrochemical Society

author list (cited authors)

  • Kusoglu, A., Santare, M. H., Karlsson, A. M., Cleghorn, S., & Johnson, W. B.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Kusoglu, Ahmet||Santare, Michael H||Karlsson, Anette M||Cleghorn, Simon||Johnson, William B

publication date

  • January 2010