// Generic PEM fuel cell design concept

The development of high-performance polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells requires the behaviour of the cells to be predicted as accurately as possible. One suitable tool for this is full-cell CFD (computational fluid dynamics) modelling. These models take into account not only the usual fluid mechanics but also electrochemical reactions, current conduction and heat generation and dissipation. ZSW employs these models successfully as part of commercial software packages.

However, these commercial software solutions have the drawback that an implementation of the latest scientific findings by the user is only possible to a limited extent. On the other hand, open-source models offer precisely this option. In terms of predictive accuracy, however, they have so far not been able to keep up with their commercial counterparts.

For this reason, ZSW is expanding on one of the existing models to create an open-source full-cell model that is as general as possible, building on the already proven free CFD package OpenFOAM®. The efforts undertaken as part of the AutoStack-Industrie project (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure) have already produced some promising results. The illustration below conveys an impression of this on the basis of a channel geometry suitable for fuel cells used in automobiles. Differences to commercial software are only visible in the resulting current density distribution, which is mainly due to the fact that the water balance modelling is not yet complete. Other results such as the depicted reactant distribution are already very consistent. The current state of development thus forms a solid foundation for the continuous further development of the open-source model.


Dr. Florian Wilhelm
+49 731 9530‐203
Full-cell CFD simulations with the OpenFOAM/ZSW model and commercial
software. Top left: geometry of the channel section. Top right: current density in the membrane along the channels, below: mass fraction of oxygen in the cross-section in the cathode outlet region.

This Website uses cookies and third-party content

On this website, we use cookies which are absolutely necessary for displaying its content. If you click on “Accept cookies chosen”, only these necessary cookies are used. Other cookies and content by third parties (such as YouTube videos or maps by Google Maps) are only set with your consent by choosing “Accept all cookies”. For further information, please refer to our data protection policy where you can withdraw your consent at any time.