A stream conditioning system for a fuel cell gas management system or fuel cell engine. The stream conditioning system manages species potential in at least one fuel cell reactant stream. A species transfer device is located in the path of at least one reactant stream of a fuel cell's inlet or outlet, which transfer device conditions that stream to improve the efficiency of the fuel cell. The species transfer device incorporates an exchange media and a sorbent. The fuel cell gas management system can include a cathode loop with the stream conditioning system transferring latent and sensible heat from an exhaust stream to the cathode inlet stream of the fuel cell; an anode humidity retention system for maintaining the total enthalpy of the anode stream exiting the fuel cell related to the total enthalpy of the anode inlet stream; and a cooling water management system having segregated deionized water and cooling water loops interconnected by means of a brazed plate heat exchanger.