Standard Article

Local transient techniques in polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) diagnostics

Advances in Electrocatalysis, Materials, Diagnostics and Durability

Advanced diagnostics, models and design

Low-temperature fuel cells

  1. I. A. Schneider,
  2. G. G. Scherer

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f500070

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Schneider, I. A. and Scherer, G. G. 2010. Local transient techniques in polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) diagnostics. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) is a complex macroscopic electrochemical reactor. Its performance is governed by the interplay of various processes, which occur on different length and timescales. Transient techniques provide a basis for understanding limiting processes, material properties, and degradation phenomena. A variety of transient techniques have entered the field of PEFC diagnostics: linear sweep and cyclic voltammetry (LSV, CV), potential and current step, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). Transient techniques have been used for the in situ characterization of a PEFC up to the complex stack level. Yet, by contrast, conclusions deduced from transient response are almost exclusively limited to phenomena within the most elemental part of a PEFC, the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). This perception, however, neglects the fact that in a technical PEFC processes in three spatial dimensions determine local cell performance and therefore, transient response. In contrast to integral measurements, local transient techniques account for the inhomogeneous operation of a PEFC. In this article, key results obtained by using local CV, EIS, and current step technique are discussed. Thereby, we focus on phenomena in local and overall transient response of a PEFC, which are linked to processes along the flow channels. It is shown that their identification and consideration is crucial for a meaningful interpretation of results


  • transient technique;
  • electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS);
  • cyclic voltammetry (CV);
  • step;
  • neutron radiography;
  • diagnostics;
  • segmented cell;
  • local current;
  • local resistance;
  • high-frequency resistance (HFR);
  • hydrogen underpotential deposition (Hupd);
  • electrochemically active surface area (ECA);
  • membrane;
  • hydration;
  • water management;
  • gas channel;
  • flow field;
  • gas diffusion layer (GDL);
  • dynamic response;
  • mass transport;
  • diffusion;
  • convection;
  • model