Design and manufacturing of a (PEMFC) proton exchange membrane fuel cell

  • Mohamad Y F A Mustafa

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research addresses the manufacturing problems of the fuel cell in an applied industrial approach with the aim of investigating the technology of manufacturing of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, and using this technology in reducing the cost of manufacturing through simplifying the design and using less exotic materials.

    The first chapter of this thesis briefly discusses possible energy alternatives to fossil fuels, arriving at the importance of hydrogen energy and fuel cells. The chapter is concluded with the main aims of this study.

    A review of the relevant literature is presented in chapter 2 aiming to learn from the experience of previous researchers, and to avoid the duplication in the current work.

    Understanding the proper working principles and the mechanisms causing performance losses in fuel cells is very important in order to devise techniques for reducing these losses and their cost. This is covered in the third chapter of this thesis which discusses the theoretical background of the fuel cell science.

    The design of the fuel cell module is detailed in chapter 4, supported with detailed engineering drawings and a full description of the design methodology.

    So as to operate the fuel cell; the reactant gases had to be prepared and the performance and operating conditions of the fuel cell tested, this required a test facility and gas conditioning unit which has been designed and built for this research. The details of this unit are presented in chapter 5.

    In addition to the experimental testing of the fuel cell under various geometric arrangements, a three dimensional 3D fully coupled numerical model was used to model the performances of the fuel cell. A full analysis of the experimental and computational results is presented in chapter 6. Finally, the conclusions of this work and recommendations for further investigations are presented in chapter 7 of this thesis.

    In this work, an understanding of voltage loss mechanism in the fuel cell based on thermodynamic irreversibility is introduced for the first time and a comprehensive formula for efficiency based on the actual operating temperature is presented.

    Furthermore, a novel design of a 100W (PEMFC) module which is apt to reduce the cost of manufacturing and improve water and thermal management of the fuel cell is presented. The work also included the design and manufacturing of a test facility and gas conditioning unit for PEM fuel cells which will be useful in performing further experiments on fuel cells in future research work.

    Taking into consideration that fuel cell technology is not properly revealed in the open literature, where most of the work on fuel cells does not offer sufficient information on the design details and calculations, this thesis is expected to be useful in the manifestation of fuel cell technology.

    It is also hoped that the work achieved in this study is useful for the advancement of fuel cell science and technology.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsRoyal Jordanian Airforce, King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau, King Abdullah II Fund for Development & Higher Council for Science and Technology, Jordan
    SupervisorErik Holdo (Supervisor), Munzer Ebaid (Supervisor) & William Hall (Supervisor)


    • alternative energy
    • proton exchange membrane fuel cell
    • fuel cell technology
    • thermodynamics
    • manufacturing

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