Gas diffusion layer materials and their effect on polymer electrolyte fuel cell performance - Ex situ and in situ characterization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


The gas diffusion layer (GDL) has a vital role in the operation of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC). Therefore, studying GDL characteristics and their effect on the cell performance is fundamental for the development of more efficient PEFCs.

The work presented covers a selection of commercially available GDL types used in fuel cell development. It highlights some key GDL properties and their influence on PEFC performance. The results show that GDL materials have a direct effect on the ohmic and mass transport losses in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). They also show that studying the effect of GDL properties on the performance is rather complex, due to the many interrelated properties. The study shows that GDL thickness has a significant effect on the mass transport properties of MEA, but has minimal effect on the ohmic losses. The bulk density of the substrate has a significant effect on the water transport properties and the maximum current density achieved. It is also found that woven and non-woven GDLs achieve comparable performance at optimized operating conditions. Moreover, the felt fiber structure has higher ohmic resistance but achieves better performance than that of straight fiber carbon paper due to its enhanced water transport ability.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-741
Number of pages7
JournalFuel Cells
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Elcetrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Gas diffusion layer, Polymer electrolyte fuel cell