Numerical modeling and experimental study of the influence of GDL properties on performance in a PEMFC

Jeong Hwan Chun, Ki Tae Park, Dong Hyun Jo, Sang Gon Kim, Sung Hyun Kim

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81 Citations (Scopus)


This work is to study the effect of properties of gas diffusion layer (GDL) on performance in a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) by both numerical simulation and experiments. The 1-dimension numerical simulation using the mixture-phase model is developed to calculate polarization curve. We are able to estimate optimum GDL properties for cell performance from numerical simulation results. Various GDLs which have different properties are prepared to verify accuracy of the simulation results. The contact angle and gas permeability of GDLs are controlled by polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) content in micro-porous layers (MPLs). MPL slurry is prepared by homogeneous blending of carbon powder, PTFE suspension, isopropyl alcohol and glycerol. Then the slurry is coated on gas diffusion mediums (GDMs) surface with controlled thickness by blade coating method. Non-woven carbon papers which have different thicknesses of 200 μm and 380 μm are used as GDMs. The prepared GDLs are measured by surface morphology, contact angle, gas permeability and through-plane electrical resistance. Moreover, the GDLs are tested in a 25 cm2 single cell at 70 °C in humidified H2/air condition. The contact angle of GDL increases with increasing PTFE content in MPL. However, the gas permeability and through-plane electrical conductivity decrease with increasing PTFE content and thickness of GDM. These changes in properties of GDL greatly influence the cell performance. As a result, the best performance is obtained by GDL consists of 200 μm thick non-woven carbon paper as GDM and MPL contained 20 wt.% PTFE content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1837-1845
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the Seoul Research and Business Development Program .


  • GDL thickness
  • Gas diffusion layer (GDL)
  • Gas diffusion medium (GDM)
  • Micro-porous layer (MPL)
  • Mixture-phase model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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