It is well known that liquid water plays a crucial role in the degradation processes of fuel cells; however, scientists want to better understand this action in order to find ways of improving fuel cell performance and durability. The 'Understanding of degradation mechanisms to improve components and design of PEFC' (Decode) project team will examine degradation mechanisms in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEFCs) under steady-state, cycling and start-up and shut-down conditions. If certain information can only be derived from a specific model configuration, the researchers will create the necessary scenario. But, in general, components will be tested as they age naturally, i.e. over a long-term period of operation under realistic and technical conditions. Using these methods, the researchers will examine a variety of components in the fuel cells including the electrodes, membranes, diffusion media and bipolar stacks. According to them, 'a special strength of the project is the large modelling activity'. They believe that this will considerably further our understanding of the processes leading to degradation, as well as 'deliver the tools to describe ageing and performance degradation' of PEFCs.