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KH1405 The Fuel Cell 6.0 credits

A broad course on fuel cells and fuel cell systems.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus KH1405 (Spring 2011–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

In a future society fuel cells are expected to play an important role as energy converters in vehicles, portable electronics and for distributed heat- and power generation. In the course we will discuss:

• thermodynamics and kinetics of electrochemical reactions

• the design and operation of fuel cells

• components, design and thermodynamics of the whole fuel cell system

• fuels for fuel cells; their production, handling and reformation in fuel cell systems

• power electronics in fuel cell systems

Apart from lectures, tutorials are held in order to make it easier to understand the calculation directed parts of the course and also to give the students a practical experience of solving fuel cell related problems. Beside the teacher led activities there is also a compulsory group assignment, in which the students solve problems related to a fuel cell system for a given application. The group assignment is examined in a written report and in an oral exam.

Intended learning outcomes

After completed course you should be able to:

  • Explain how a fuel cell works and describe the main components and their function.
  • Describe the different fuel cell types with respect to electrolyte and electrode materials, operating temperature, electrode reactions, and applications.
  • Explain and implement the relation between cell voltage, power density and efficiency of the fuel cell.
  • Calculate an equilibrium potential, and explain and implement the relation between electrode potential, over potential and cell voltage.
  • Determine the electric as well as the total efficiency for both the fuel cell and its system by using thermodynamic data.
  • Describe the main components in a fuel cell system for production of power and heat, and explain how the different components work together.
  • Describe frequently used power electronics in the fuel cell system and their most important properties.
  • Describe the fuel alternatives for production of hydrogen in stationary as well as in mobile applications, and discuss their advantages and disadvantages when regarding production, storage and distribution.
  • Explain the most important processes for hydrogen production and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of them.
  • Solve, in a group, a given assignment, and in a written report and in an oral examination explain and discuss how the group assignment was solved.

For higher grades you should also be able to:

  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different fuel cell types and from this suggest and motivate the choice of a certain fuel cell for a given application.
  • Decide what system components (fuel reformer, fuel cell type, power converter etc) that are preferred for a given application, and schematically illustrate such a system.
  • Discuss how fuel cells could be integrated in the society and in the existing energy system.

Course disposition

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Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Completed upper secondary education including documented proficiency in Swedish corresponding to Swedish B and English corresponding to English A. For students who received/will receive their final school grades after 31 December 2009, there is an additional entry requirement for mathematics as follows: documented proficiency in mathematics corresponding to Mathematics A.

And the specific requirements of mathematics, physics and chemistry corresponding to Mathematics D, Physics B and Chemistry A, as well as at least 10 university credits (hp) in mathematics and 10 university credits (hp) in chemistry.

Recommended prerequisites

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James Larminie, Andrew Dicks, ”Fuel Cell Systems Explained” 2nd edition, Wiley (2003)

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • PRO1 - Project, 3,0 hp, betygsskala: P, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 3,0 hp, betygsskala: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Examination (TEN1; 3 credits)
Project (PRO1; 3 credits)

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Carina Lagergren

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web KH1405

Offered by

CBH/Engineering Pedagogics

Main field of study

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Technology

Education cycle

First cycle

Add-on studies

KE2010 Industrial Energy Processes
KE2050 Environmental Catalysis
KE2110 Applied Electrochemistry
KE2300 Electrochemical Energy Devices

Supplementary information

Will replace 6D2946

Joint studies with the course KE2170