Analysys of the Performance a PEM-Type Electrolyzer in Variable Energy Supply Conditions

Juan Maya, Farid Chejne, Carlos Gomez, Jorge Montoya, Hernando Chaquea, Brennan Pecha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


In this article, the main variables related to the performance of a proton exchange membrane-type electrolyzer are analyzed along with the risk of explosion for different operating conditions, notably when the electrolyzer works with a variable solar energy power supply and at high pressure. A novel mathematical model was developed that considers all mass transport phenomena through the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for water, hydrogen, and oxygen, as well as the water evaporation in the anode and cathode channels. The main findings of this work are that for a solar energy supply operating at high pressure, the electrolyzer cannot function safely throughout the day, since in the hours when solar irradiation is lower, low current densities favor high hydrogen concentrations at the anode. Finally, it was found that greater thicknesses of the membrane increased the explosion risk due to the increase in the MEA temperature and therefore the hydrogen solubility.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)526-541
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-87171


  • explosion risk
  • mass transport mechanisms
  • mathematical modeling
  • PEM electrolyzer
  • solar energy


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