Standard Article

Air-cooled PEM fuel cells

Fundamentals and Survey of Systems

Heat transfer in fuel cells

  1. R. von Helmolt1,
  2. W. Lehnert2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f103010

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

von Helmolt, R. and Lehnert, W. 2010. Air-cooled PEM fuel cells. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Adam Opel AG—Global Alternative Propulsion Center, Rüsselsheim, Germany

  2. 2

    Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wurttemberg, Ulm, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells operated with hydrogen are usually operated at a voltage of around 0.7 V. This means that power conversion in a PEM fuel cell usually has an efficiency of about 50%. Therefore, a cooling medium has to flow through the bipolar plate and the heat has to be removed by convection of this medium. Most PEM fuel cells are cooled with de-ionized water. Air cooling can be an option especially for mobile and portable applications. As the complete liquid-cooling loop is no longer necessary, an air-cooled system might be much simpler. Advantages and disadvantages of air-cooled stacks will be discussed in the article. Furthermore some examples of air-cooled stacks will be presented.


  • air-cooling;
  • stack design;
  • low power application;
  • mobile application;
  • portable application