Tianjin University Develops High-Density PEM Fuel Cell

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The proton membrane exchange fuel cell has high volumetric power density with an ultra-thin film, eliminating mass transfer losses by up to 80%.

A team from the Tianjin University School of Mechanical Engineering (TUSME), led by Prof. Jiao Kui, have developed a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with an ultra-high volumetric power density. The fuel cell, when compared to market counterparts, demonstrates an 80% higher performance efficiency. Jiao Kui’s team redesigned the PEM fuel cell’s architecture, integrating new components and improving the gas-water-electric-heat flow routes.


Both ultra-thin and ultra-high power density fuel cells were developed during the course of TUSME’s design process. An ultra-thin carbon nanofiber film, produced with electrospinning and metal foam, eliminates the requirement for traditional gas diffusion layers and flow channels. The design has achieved a 90% reduction in membrane thickness and an 80% reduction in mass transfer losses caused by reactant diffusion. A thinner membrane and reduced mass transfer losses double the volumetric power density of the fuel cell.

The research team predicts that the peak volumetric power density of the fuel cell stack will reach 9.8 kW per liter. Continuously increasing the volumetric power density of the fuel cell presents a technical challenge, but TUSME’s PEM development provides guidance to further advance fuel cell technology. TUSME’s PEM fuel cell research has been published in the Joule journal last Thursday, Dec. 28th.