Do not forget the electrochemical characteristics of the membrane electrode assembly when designing a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell stack

Abstract : The membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is the key component of a PEMFC stack. Conventional MEAs are composed of catalyzed electrodes loaded with 0.1-0.4 mgPt cm−2 pressed against a Nafion® membrane, leading to cell performance close to 0.8 W cm−2 at 0.6 V. Due to their limited stability at high temperatures, the cost of platinum catalysts and that of proton exchange membranes, the recycling problems and material availability, the MEA components do not match the requirements for large scale development of PEMCFs at a low cost, particularly for automotive applications. Novel approaches to medium and high temperature membranes are described in this work, and a composite polybenzimidazole-poly(vinylphosphonic) acid membrane, stable up to 190 ◦C, led to a power density of 0.5 W cm−2 at 160 ◦C under 3 bar abs with hydrogen and air. Concerning the preparation of efficient electrocatalysts supported on a Vulcan XC72 carbon powder, the Bönnemann colloidal method and above all plasma sputtering allowed preparing bimetallic platinum-based electrocatalysts with a low Pt loading. In the case of plasma deposition of Pt nanoclusters, Pt loadings as low as 10 g cm−2 were achieved, leading to a very high mass power density of ca. 20 kW g−1 Pt . Finally characterization of the MEA electrical properties by Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) based on a theoretical model of mass and charge transport inside the active and gas diffusion layers, together with the optimization of the operating parameters (cell temperature, humidity, flow rate and pressure) allowed obtaining electrical performance greater than 1.2 W cm−2 using an homemade MEA with a rather low Pt loading.
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Claude Lamy, Deborah Jones, Christophe Coutanceau, Pascal Brault, Sergueï Martemianov, et al.. Do not forget the electrochemical characteristics of the membrane electrode assembly when designing a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell stack. Electrochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2011, 56, pp.10406-10423. ⟨10.1016/j.electacta.2011.05.098⟩. ⟨hal-00642249⟩

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