Gas diffusion layers for PEM fuel cells: Materials, properties and manufacturing – A review

Grigoria Athanasaki, Arunkumar Jayakumar, A. M. Kannan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The complexity in proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stack stems from the fact that numerous physio-chemical processes as well as multi-functional components are involved in its operation. Among the various components a Gas Diffusion Layer (GDL) being an integral component that plays a significant role in determining the performance, durability, and the dynamic characteristics, when air is used as oxidant. In addition, it serves as an armour to safeguard the membrane (Nafion), which is a delicate as well as one of the most expensive components of the PEMFC stack. A comprehensive insight on the GDL can help us to assess the fuel cell stack performance and durability. Apparently, the gas (hydrogen and air/oxygen) being converted to the energy in a PEM fuel cell needs to be diffused uniformly for which surface attributes and porosity must also be well interpreted. This review is a comprehensive assessment made on the fundamental mechanism of the diffusion process along with the various materials involved and evaluating their pros and cons. Eventually, the various manufacturing techniques involved in the GDL fabrication process are also reviewed holistically. It is envisaged that the additive manufacturing process can be a potential option to fabricate a GDL in a cost-effective and simple manufacturing approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2294-2313
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 19 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Gas diffusion layer
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Surface morphology
  • Thermal conductivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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