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master degree course in AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

Course year 2
Teaching units Unit Modellazione di Macchine Elettrochimiche
To be chosen by the student (lesson)
  • TAF: Optional subjects SSD: ING-IND/08 CFU: 6
Teachers: Alessandro D'ADAMO
Exam type written
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
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Alessandro D'ADAMO


The course "Modelling of Electrochemical Machines" analyzes and describes the most advanced types of fluid machines (electrochemical and thermal) for the production of electrical / thermal energy in the field of mechanical and energy engineering, as well as for the production of hydrogen / oxygen by electrolysis. The course is based on a virtual design laboratory based on multidimensional fluid dynamic codes (CFD-3D), in which virtual models will be created for each of the machines described. On this basis, innovative solutions for the improvement of machines on a numerical basis will be evaluated. The course will resume the fundamentals of electrochemistry and thermodynamics necessary to understand the operation of fuel cells and electrolysers, the types and the engineering design criteria will be described, limits will be critically analyzed together with their industrial perspectives. 3D-CFD models will be created for each of the main machines studied, with discussion of all the fluid dynamic/electrochemical processes involved and optimization of the same using numerical simulation. The course will include the design and sizing of a Fuel Cell System (FCS), also known as "Balance of Plant".

Admission requirements

Fundamentals of thermodynamics and electrochemistry.

Course contents

(1 CFU)
• Principles of electrochemistry and thermodynamics applied to engineering
• Fuel cell basics: thermodynamic limits, efficiency and operating conditions, fuel cell design criteria

(1 CFU)
• Electrolyzer basics: fundamentals and types of electrolyzers (PEM, SOEC), thermodynamic limits, efficiency and operating conditions, design criteria of an electrolyzer

(2 CFU)
• Fuels for thermal machines with reduced environmental impact: references to combustion principles, characteristics of hydrogen, ammonia, etc. as fuels for decarbonization, technical/economic/environmental analysis and prospects for the development of thermal machines with reduced environmental impact

(2 CFU)
• CFD-3D numerical simulation laboratory: references to numerical fluid dynamics (fluid governance equations, numerical analysis techniques, introduction to software), creation and simulation of a PEMFC hydrogen fuel cell model (modeling of a PEMFC, effect of material properties on the performance of a PEMFC, analysis of the water balance of the membrane of a PEMFC, modeling a cooling circuit for a PEMFC stack), creation of a SOFC model, creating and simulating a PEM electrolyzer model for hydrogen and oxygen production (modeling a PEM electrolyzer, virtual design of a PEM electrolyzer improvement model).

Teaching methods

Lectures of theory and laboratory of numerical simulation.

Assessment methods

Laboratory exercise of fluid dynamics simulation and oral exam on the contents of the course (approximately 30 minutes).

Learning outcomes

• Ability to critically analyze the fluid dynamic principles underlying the operation of electrochemical machines (fuel cells, electrolyzers)
• Ability to design and optimize fuel cells and electrolysers, and to design an energy system based on these components


Teacher’s notes
H. Versteeg, W. Malalasekera, “An Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics: The Finite Volume Method, 2nd Edition”, ISBN 9780273720317
F. Barbir, “PEM Fuel Cells - Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition”, ISBN 9780123877109
J. Larminie, A. Dicks, “Fuel Cell Systems Explained, Second Edition”, ISBN 9780470848579