Numerically Efficient Degradation Model of Catalyst Layers in PEM Fuel Cells using Modelica


  • Jakob Trägner
  • Steffen Heinke
  • Wilhelm Tegethoff
  • Jürgen Köhler



PEM Fuel Cells, Catalyst Degradation, Stiff System, Time Constants, quasi-equilibrium


Degradation of the catalyst layer is a major challenge for the commercialization of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). Numerical modeling helps to understand and analyse the degradation phenomena, to transfer results from accelerated stress tests (ASTs) to real applications and to optimize operating conditions regarding degradation. We implemented a typical catalyst degradation model for platinum used in literature in Modelica. A numerical analysis shows the problem of “stiffness” for these models, meaning the tremendous difference in time constants. Assuming the platinum ion concentration in the ionomer to be in quasi-equilibrium helps to reduce the “stiffness”, increases simulation speed and numerical robustness without any relevant inaccuracy. For a typical AST, the simulation speed can be more than doubled ending in a real-time factor of over 1,000. Thus, 500 hours of AST can be simulated within less than 30 minutes, which gives room for extensive analysis with the model.