Gas diffusion layer for proton exchange membrane fuel cells-A review

L. Cindrella, Arunachala Mada Kannan, J. F. Lin, K. Saminathan, Y. Ho, C. W. Lin, J. Wertz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

410 Scopus citations


Gas diffusion layer (GDL) is one of the critical components acting both as the functional as well as the support structure for membrane-electrode assembly in the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). The role of the GDL is very significant in the H2/air PEM fuel cell to make it commercially viable. A bibliometric analysis of the publications on the GDLs since 1992 shows a total of 400+ publications (>140 papers in the Journal of Power Sources alone) and reveals an exponential growth due to reasons that PEMFC promises a lot of potential as the future energy source for varied applications and hence its vital component GDL requires due innovative analysis and research. This paper is an attempt to pool together the published work on the GDLs and also to review the essential properties of the GDLs, the method of achieving each one of them, their characterization and the current status and future directions. The optimization of the functional properties of the GDLs is possible only by understanding the role of its key parameters such as structure, porosity, hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, gas permeability, transport properties, water management and the surface morphology. This paper discusses them in detail to provide an insight into the structural parts that make the GDLs and also the processes that occur in the GDLs under service conditions and the characteristic properties. The required balance in the properties of the GDLs to facilitate the counter current flow of the gas and water is highlighted through its characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-160
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 20 2009


  • Gas diffusion layer
  • Gas permeability
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Porosity
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
  • Water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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