The energy efficiency of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells always keeps changing with load and time. Considering cell diversity and operation variety, it’s of necessity to find a simple method to estimate the changes. The work is done with the recently developed ideal cell model on behalf of various real cells, and results in a complete set of efficiency formulae including one for the instantaneous and three for the average. The formulae stand for a volt-ampere method which permits the average efficiency to be estimated in the form of state function of cell output like the instantaneous efficiency. With cell constants for cell specialty representation in this method, the formulae can extend to cover various real cells and make it realized to broadly overview the instantaneous and average efficiency movements with both load and time throughout cell operating ranges. The energy efficiency formulization and overviews may help make clear the correlative parameters with the efficiency, help deepen acquaintance with efficiency change and assist in cell operation optimization.
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