Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Fuel Cell Science & Engineering

ME 59700 / 3 Cr.

This course is designed as the introduction to fuel cell science and engineering for both graduate and undergraduate students (senior). The course is 3 credit hours (3 credits for lecture). It is intended for students in the mechanical and electrical engineering, materials science and chemistry. The course will cover the fundamentals of the fuel cell science; emphasis will be placed on the fuel cell reactions, charge and mass transport in fuel cells, water transport management, and materials development in the fuel cells, fuel cell system designs and integrations. The current state-of-the-art fuel cell technology will be introduced as well as the current technical challenges on the development of fuel cells. Codes and standards for safe handling of fuel cells will also be emphasized.


Fuel Cell Fundamentals, Ryan O’Hayre, Suk-Won-Cha, Whitney Colella, Fritz B. Prinz. John Wiley 2006.


To teach students a basic understanding of the principle of batteries and to provide the opportunity to apply these laws to real battery applications.


After completion of this course, the students should be able to:

  1. Identify the electrolytes, temperature range and operation of PEMFC, DMFC, AFC, PAFC; MCFC, SOFC, and DMFC.
  2. Analyze the efficiency and open circuit voltages of a fuel cell 
  3. Identify the fuel cell over-voltages: activation, ohmic, crossover and concentration losses and apply the Nernst/Butler Vollmer equation 
  4. Apply fuel cell equations to compute the mass flow rates of reactants, heat generated and water produced in a hydrogen fuel cell
  5. Analyze physical compressor problems as applied to fuel cell systems
  6. Demonstrate the systematic approach in reforming various types of fuels to obtain hydrogen and reformates, and also hydrogen storage techniques.
  7. Develop an in-depth understanding of safety and regulatory issues regarding transportation, storage and onboard transportation of FC devices in passenger aircrafts and mass transportation systems.

Note: The letters within the brackets indicate the general program outcomes of mechanical engineering. See: ME Program Outcomes.

  1. Fuel cell principles
    • Introduction fuel—fuel cell types, basic principles
    • Fuel cell thermodynamics
    • Fuel cell reaction kinetics
    • Charge transfer in fuel cells
    • Mass transport in fuel cells
    • Fuel cell modeling
    • Fuel cell characterization
  2. Fuel cell engineering
    • Overview of fuel cell types
    •  Proton exchange membrane and solid oxide fuel cell materials
    • Overview of fuel cell systems
    • Fuel processing subsystem design
    • Thermal management subsystem design
    • Fuel cell system design
    • Environmental impact of fuel cells
  3.  Special topics
    • Current challenges of fuel cell engineering (performance, durability and cost)
    • Application of nanostructured materials in fuel cells
    • Micro-fuel cells
    • Modeling of catalyst design
    • Anion exchange membrane fuel cells

Fuel Cells and Their Applications. Karl Kordesch, Gunter

Simander. VCH Publishers Inc. N.Y., N.Y. USA. Reprint 2001.

Fuel Cell Systems Explained. James Larminie, Andrew Dicks.

John Wiley & Sons, 2003, 2nd ED.

Principles of Fuel Cells. Xianguo Li. Taylor & Francis Group, 2006.

Fuel Cell Systems. Leo J.M.J. Blomen, Michael N. Mugerwa. Plenum Press, New York, 1993

SAE publications 1999-2006

Assignments, Exams, and Grading

Exams (2 midterms and 1 final) 60% (20% each)

Homework 20%

Quizzes and Attendance 10%

Project report 10%