The objective of this research is to analyze the effects of vibration on the performance of hydrogen PEM fuel cells. It has been reported that if the liquid water transport across the gas diffusion layer (GDL) changes, so does the overall cell performance. Since many fuel cells operate under a vibrating environment –as in the case of automotive applications, this may influence the liquid water concentration across the GDL at different current densities, affecting the overall fuel cell performance. The problem was developed in two main steps. First, the basis for an analytical model was established using current models for water transport in porous media. Then, a series of experiments were carried, monitoring the performance of the fuel cell for different parameters of oscillation. For sinusoidal vibration at 10, 20 and 50Hz (2 g of magnitude), a decrease in the fuel cell performance by 2.2%, 1.1% and 1.3% was recorded when compared to operation at no vibration respectively. For 5 g of magnitude, the fuel cell reported a drop of 5.8% at 50 Hz, whereas at 20 Hz the performance increased by 1.3%. Although more extensive experimentation is needed to identify a relationship between magnitude and frequency of vibration affecting the performance of the fuel cell as well as a throughout examination of the liquid water formation in the cathode, this study shows that sinusoidal vibration, overall, affects the performance of PEM fuel cells.

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