Direct measurement of current density under the land and channel in a PEM fuel cell with serpentine flow fields

Andrew Higier, Hongtan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


One of the most common types of flow field designs used in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells is the serpentine flow field. It is used for its simplicity of design, its effectiveness in distributing reactants and its water removal capabilities. The knowledge about where current density is higher, under the land or the channel, is critical for flow field design and optimization. Yet, no direct measurement data are available for serpentine flow fields. In this study a fuel cell with a single channel serpentine flow field is used to separately measure the current density under the land and channel, which is either catalyzed or insulated on the cathode. In this manner, a systematic study is conducted under a wide variety of conditions and a series of comparisons are made between land and channel current density. The results show that under most operating conditions, current density is higher under the land than that under the channel. However, at low voltage, a rapid drop off in current density occurs under the land due to concentration losses. The mechanisms for the direct measurement results and general guidelines for serpentine flow field design and optimizations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-648
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 5 2009


  • Current density
  • Current distribution
  • Flow field
  • Fuel cell
  • PEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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