This paper describes the fundamental theory, algorithm and computation methods to predict the performance of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) using a simplified computational fluid dynamics (CFD) approach. Based on the common transport phenomenon inside both fuel cells, the mass, momentum, energy and species equations were derived. Darcy laws were employed to simplify the momentum equation and also to linearize the species equation. The mathematical model was solved in various flow channel designs and some membrane electrode assembly (MEA) options. The major concern is mainly on the cathode side, in the PEMFC case, that dominates the performance deterioration due to potential loss in the flow field. In the case of DMFCs, both anode and cathode sides are simulated. The methanol crossover effect is also included. This virtual performance test bench plays an important role in the prototype fuel cell design. The computer aided design tool is proved to be useful in configuration designs. Additionally, it provides the detailed transport phenomenon inside the fuel cell stack.

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