Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering, MS

Committee Chair

Park, Sam D.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Brehob, Ellen

Committee Member

Brehob, Ellen

Committee Member

Kim, Young Hoon

Author's Keywords

PEMFC; fuel cell; CFD; hydrogen; Solidworks


Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are important to the future of green energy as hydrogen can be made with green technologies and store energy for later use. Fuel cells can efficiently convert the hydrogen to electricity as needed. This study uses Solidworks simulation to make design improvements to the fuel cell before the prototype build stage of testing; this saves money and time by reducing the prototype builds needed.

In this study, a multi-channel serpentine design with two outlets versus a single outlet is evaluated using CFD to investigate pressure drop. Lower pressure drops are desirable as less energy input is required to operate the fuel cell. A problem with the clamping of fuel cell end plates is that the forces are not evenly spread throughout the cell. To improve the clamping force problem, a two-piece end plate with embossments is designed and forces simulated. In the FEA, the embossments provided a more uniform force distribution.

The findings show that the two-outlet bi-polar plate greatly reduces the pressure drop, which at same inlet pressure of 5 psi increases the mass flowrate by 54% . The analysis of the endplates with embossments shows an improvement in the uniformity of the forces applied to the fuel cell. This is visible by the stress contour plots of each design, which shows that the forces move from the edges of the cell to the inner area of the cell.

This study demonstrates that Solidworks can be used to evaluate a PEMFC and that the design changes used in this study have promising possibilities in future PEMFC designs.