Effect of Trace Contaminants on PEM Fuel Cell Performance


At the Hawaii Fuel Cell Test Facility a systematic evaluation of the impact of impurities in hydrogen is underway to evaluate the effects on the performance of PEM fuel cells. Initial tests are being conducted using carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon contaminants. The effects of carbon monoxide poisons at atmospheric and pressurized operating conditions have shown a strong dependence on concentration of the impurity over the range 6.7 µmole/mole to 29.3 µmole/mole. Additionally, benzene and toluene were tested at 20 µmole/mole. Although both benzene and toluene showed no evidence of fuel cell degradation, on-line gas analysis of the exit anode stream showed that toluene hydrogenation occurs in the anode resulting in 90% conversion of the toluene to methyl-cyclohexane.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    M.B.V. Virji and R.H. Thring, Proc. IMechE (219) Part D; J. Auto. Eng., 219 937 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    P. Costamagna and S. Srinivasan, J. Power Sources, 102 253 (2001)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    T. R. Ralph and M. P. Hogarth, Platinum Met. Rev., 46 117 (2002)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    J. Fahey, FORBES, April 25, 2005

  5. 5.

    SAE J2719 Draft, Surface Vehicle Information Report 06/2005

  6. 6.

    “Proposed Hydrogen Fuel Standard Road Map” Joint Hydrogen Quality Task Force, USFCC 05–146 July 26 2005 www.usfcc.com

  7. 7.

    S. Watanabe, M. Tatsumi, M. Akai, presented at the 2004 Fuel Cell Seminar, San Antonio TX. Nov. 2004;

  8. #

    M. Akai, S. Watanabe presented at the ISO/TC197/WG12 N 24 Meeting January 24th -26th 2005

  9. 8.

    D. Poondi and M. A. Vannice, J. Catal. 161, 742 (1996)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 22.

    J.J. Baschuk and X. Li, Int. J. Energy Res., 25 695 (2001)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 10.

    T.R. Ralph, Platinum Met. Rev., 41 102 (1997)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. 11.

    T.R. Ralph, G.A. Hards, J.E. Keatings, S.A. Campell, D. P. Wilkinson, M. Davis, J. St-Pierre and M.C. Johnson, J. Electrochem. Soc. 144 3845 (1997)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 12.

    J. Kolde, presented at the 2003 Fuel Cell Seminar, Miami Beach, FL. Nov. 2003

  14. 13.

    F. Uribe, T. Zawodzinski, Electrochemica Acta 47 3799 (2002)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 14.

    T.E. Springer, T. Rockward, T.A. Zawodzinski and S. Gottesfeld, J. Electrochem. Soc., 148 A11 (2001)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 15.

    J.X. Zhang, T. Thampan, R. Datta, J. Electrochem. Soc., 149 A765 (2002)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 16.

    S. D. Knights, D. P. Wilkinson, S. A. Campbell, J. L. Taylor, J. M. Gascoyne and T. R. Ralph, World Appl. 01/15247; 2001

  18. 17.

    J.X. Zhang, T. Thampan, R. Datta, J. Electrochem. Soc., 149 A1423 (2002)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tony Thampan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Thampan, T., Rocheleau, R., Bethune, K. et al. Effect of Trace Contaminants on PEM Fuel Cell Performance. MRS Online Proceedings Library 885, 105 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0885-A01-05

Download citation