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Course year 2
Teaching units Unit Hydrogen and Fuel Cell in electric transportation
To be chosen by the student (lesson)
  • TAF: Optional subjects SSD: ING-IND/22 CFU: 6
Teachers: Marcello ROMAGNOLI
Moodle portal

Aula virtuale su Microsoft Teams (immatricolati: 2020)

Exam type written
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language inglese
Contents download pdf download




The course features the following objectives: providing the physics and electrochemistry background specific to fuels cells; describing their functioning principles, their structure and the materials most fuel cell types are made up of; discussing their energy performance. Moreover, various methods for hydrogen production, together with other possible fuels reacting in fuel cells, will be presented as an additional objective; manufacturing techniques for single-cell or fuel-cell-based device production will also be introduced. Examples of transport applications of H2 and fuel cells will also be provided.

Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of thermodynamics fundamentals, materials science and electrochemistry is recommended.

Course contents

Thermodynamics and electrochemistry fundamentals: redox reactions, voltage, current, enthaply of reaction, Gibbs free energy, dissipation, Nernst law, activation energy and catalysis.

Functioning principles: electrodes and electrolyte, electric circuit, polarization losses (activation, Ohmic and concentration), cooling, energy and mass balance against reactants and products, single-cell and stack electric and thermal efficiency, purging strategies.

Structure and components: MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) and catalysts, GDL (Gas Diffusion Layer), bipolar plates, seals and gaskets, auxiliaries (compressors, pumps, tamks, inverter, valves).

Detailed description of the main fuel-cell types (PEMFC, PAFC, AFC, DMFC, MCFC, SOFC), with strengths and weaknesses: materials, applications.

Hydrogen production: main fuels employed for hydrogen generation, reforming, electrolysis, production efficiency and its optimization. Overview of production methods for other fuels that may take part in fuel-cell reactions.

Examples of application in transport: cars, buses, trains, ships, aircraft.

Teaching methods

The course mainly consists of lectures that follow presentations prepared by the instructors. It will be guaranteed the 'synchronous supply of the lessons at a distance for everyone; based on the evolution of the health emergency COVID19 and the specificity of the activities. The lessons will be evaluated also in presence. Teaching materials is made available to students on the Dolly repository by UNIMORE in advance. Explanatory videos are also shown; samples of fuel cells introduced in the lectures are brought in the classroom and made available to students. Links to suitable websites are provided for additional in-depth learning. The instructors make themselves available for student advising on the subjects upon request.

Assessment methods

The evaluation consists of an oral examination, in presence or at a distance based on the evolution of Covid19 that starts from a subject chosen by the student among those listed in the syllabus and then progresses through the whole course program. Solution of short exercises may be required as part of the exam. Emphasis is placed on non-mnemonic learning and on deep understanding of the involved mechanisms.

Learning outcomes

-Knowledge and understanding.
Through lectures, guided readings and discussion groups , students are expected to: know the physical and chemical principles underlying fuel-cell functioning; know structure and functioning specific to the presented fuel-cell types, with all the related strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, understanding fuel-cell energy performance is also expected, together with understanding utilization and production issues for hydrogen or other fuels reacting in fuel cells. Sectors where fuel-cell are or may be employed, examples of their application and fuel-cell manufacturing methods represent an additional body of knowledge expected from students.They acquire the ability to understand the specific literature on H2 and fuel cell technology.

-Ability to apply knowledge and understanding.
By means questions posed during class, the teacher calls students to apply their knowledge to solve problems about production, storage of H2 and characteristics of fuel cells. Students must also evaluate the economic aspects in order to have a professional approach to their work.

-Independence of judgment.
Through the discussion in the classroom, the answer to the questions posed by the teacher during the lectures the student is able to understand, critically discuss and present their own evaluations.

-Communication skills.
Classroom discussions allow the development of the communication skills about the questions proposed by the teacher in an effectively and concisely way; to express the concepts learned with appropriate language and to hold a discussion about the topics covered.

-Learning ability.
The activities described allow to the student the acquiring of the methodological tools to continue their studies and to be able to provide for its own updating.


J. Larminie, A. Dicks, Fuel cell systems explained, Wiley, Chichester, UK, 2003.

M. Noro, Celle a combustibile. Tecnologia e possibilità applicative, Dario Flaccovio, Palermo, Italia, 2010.