The cold-start performance of proton exchange membrane fuel cells is of great significance to their real-world application. Few experimental studies have investigated the effects of contact pressure distribution on the cold-start performance of fuel cells. In this study, the effects of the changes in the contact pressure distribution between the cathode catalytic layer and the micro-porous layer were experimentally evaluated by varying the channel width of the cathode electrode plate. The output voltage and high-frequency impedance measurements obtained during the cold start of the fuel cell demonstrated that the contact pressure distribution affected the cold-start performance and the effects varied with the temperature. These results indicate that the channel configuration and bolt tightening torque could be manipulated to achieve the best performance under the intended operating conditions.
Keywords PEMFC, cold start, rib width, channel width, contact pressure distribution