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Performance of Phosphonated Hydrocarbon Ionomer in the Fuel Cell Cathode Catalyst Layer
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Applied Electrochemistry.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0452-0703
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Applied Electrochemistry.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1626-1067
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Applied Electrochemistry.
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology, Applied Electrochemistry.
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2013 (English)In: Journal of the Electrochemical Society, ISSN 0013-4651, E-ISSN 1945-7111, Vol. 160, no 3, F269-F277 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Inexpensive and environmentally friendly electrolyte polymers that can be operated at higher temperatures and drier conditions are highly interesting for PEM fuel cells for automotive, portable power and stationary electricity generation applications. In this study an ionomer based on polysulfone grafted with poly(vinylphosphonic acid) (PSUgPVPA) in the cathode Pt/C catalyst layer was electrochemically characterized and compared to Nafion. The performance at different levels of humidity at 80 degrees C was evaluated by polarization measurements, cyclic voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The results show that the performance of the PSUgPVPA-based cathode catalyst layer is comparable to that of Nafion-at 100% relative humidity (RH) but with some instabilities. However, at drier conditions significant losses of performance for the PSUgPVPA-based cathode was observed. This could be an effect of catalyst poisoning by the ionomer interfering with ORR. However, the concomitant decrease of the electrochemical surface area, double layer capacitance and increased imaginary impedance, indicate that the poorer performance at low humidity is mainly an effect of reduced catalyst wetting by the ionomer in combination with the decreased proton conduction in the ionomeric phase.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 160, no 3, F269-F277 p.
Keyword [en]
Gas-Diffusion Electrodes, Mass-Transport Limitations, Proton-Exchange Membranes, Pefc Cathode, Poly(Vinylphosphonic Acid), Intermediate Temperature, Transient Techniques, Relative-Humidity, Protogenic Group, Side-Chains
National Category
Chemical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-119754DOI: 10.1149/2.046303jesISI: 000315307500044ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84875455943OAI: diva2:612483

QC 20130322

Available from: 2013-03-22 Created: 2013-03-21 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Electrode degradation in proton exchange membrane fuel cells
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Electrode degradation in proton exchange membrane fuel cells
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The topic of this thesis is the degradation of fuel cell electrodes in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). In particular, the degradation associated with localized fuel starvation, which is often encountered during start-ups and shut-downs (SUs/SDs) of PEMFCs. At SU/SD, O2 and H2 usually coexist in the anode compartment. This situation forces the opposite electrode, i.e. the cathode, to very high potentials, resulting in the corrosion of the carbon supporting the catalyst, referred to as carbon corrosion. The aim of this thesis has been to develop methods, materials and strategies to address the issues associated to carbon corrosion in PEMFC.The extent of catalyst degradation is commonly evaluated determining the electrochemically active surface area (ECSA) of fuel cell electrode. Therefore, it was considered important to study the effect of RH, temperature and type of accelerated degradation test (ADT) on the ECSA. Low RH decreases the ECSA of the electrode, attributed to re-structuring the ionomer and loss of contact with the catalyst.In the search for more durable supports, we evaluated different accelerated degradation tests (ADTs) for carbon corrosion. Potentiostatic holds at 1.2 V vs. RHE were found to be too mild. Potentiostatic holds at 1.4 V vs. RHE were found to induce a large degree of reversibility, also attributed to ionomer re-structuring. Triangle-wave potential cycling was found to irreversibly degrade the electrode within a reasonable amount of time, closely simulating SU/SD conditions.Corrosion of carbon-based supports not only degrades the catalyst by lowering the ECSA, but also has a profound effect on the electrode morphology. Decreased electrode porosity, increased agglomerate size and ionomer enrichment all contribute to the degradation of the mass-transport properties of the cathode. Graphitized carbon fibers were found to be 5 times more corrosion resistant than conventional carbons, primarily attributed to their lower surface area. Furthermore, fibers were found to better maintain the integrity of the electrode morphology, generally showing less degradation of the mass-transport losses. Different system strategies for shut-down were evaluated. Not doing anything to the fuel cell during shut-downs is detrimental for the fuel cell. O2 consumption with a load and H2 purge of the cathode were found to give around 100 times lower degradation rates compared to not doing anything and almost 10 times lower degradation rate than a simple air purge of the anode. Finally, in-situ measurements of contact resistance showed that the contact resistance between GDL and BPP is highly dynamic and changes with operating conditions.

Abstract [sv]

Denna doktorsavhandling behandlar degraderingen av polymerelektrolytbränslecellselektroder. polymerelektrolytbränslecellselektroder. Den handlar särskilt om nedbrytningen av elektroden kopplad till en degraderingsmekanism som heter ”localized fuel starvation” oftast närvarande vid uppstart och nedstängning av bränslecellen. Vid start och stopp kan syrgas och vätgas förekomma samtidigt i anoden. Detta leder till väldigt höga elektrodpotentialer i katoden. Resultatet av detta är att kolbaserade katalysatorbärare korroderar och att bränslecellens livslängd förkortas. Målet med avhandlingen har varit att utveckla metoder, material och strategier för att både öka förståelsen av denna degraderingsmekanism och för att maximera katalysatorbärarens livslängd.Ett vanligt tillvägagångsätt för att bestämma graden av katalysatorns degradering är genom mätning av den elektrokemiskt aktiva ytan hos bränslecellselektroderna. I denna avhandling har dessutom effekten av temperatur och relativ fukthalt studerats. Låga fukthalter minskar den aktiva ytan hos elektroden, vilket sannolikt orsakas av en omstrukturering av jonomeren och av kontaktförlust mellan jonomer och katalysator.Olika accelererade degraderingstester för kolkorrosion har använts. Potentiostatiska tester vid 1.2 V mot RHE visade sig vara för milda. Potentiostatiska tester vid 1.4 V mot RHE visade sig däremot medföra en hög grad av reversibilitet, som också den tros vara orsakad av en omstrukturering av jonomeren. Cykling av elektrodpotentialen degraderade istället elektroden irreversibelt, inom rimlig tid och kunde väldigt nära simulera förhållandena vid uppstart och nedstängning.Korrosionen av katalysatorbäraren medför degradering av katalysatorn och har också en stor inverkan på elektrodens morfologi. En minskad elektrodporositet, en ökad agglomeratstorlek och en anrikning av jonomeren gör att elektrodens masstransportegenskaper försämras. Grafitiska kolfibrer visade sig vara mer resistenta mot kolkorrosion än konventionella kol, främst p.g.a. deras låga ytarea. Grafitiska kolfibrer visade också en förmåga att bättre bibehålla elektrodens morfologi efter accelererade tester, vilket resulterade i lägre masstransportförluster.Olika systemstrategier för nedstängning jämfördes. Att inte göra något under nedstängning är mycket skadligt för bränslecellen. Förbrukning av syre med en last och spolning av katoden med vätgas visade 100 gånger lägre degraderingshastighet av bränslecellsprestanda jämfört med att inte göra något alls och 10 gånger lägre degraderingshastighet jämfört med spolning av anoden med luft. In-situ kontaktresistansmätningar visade att kontaktresistansen mellan bipolära plattor och GDL är dynamisk och kan ändras beroende på driftförhållandena.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. 77 p.
Trita-CHE-Report, ISSN 1654-1081 ; 2013:43
PEMFC; PEFC; Porous electrodes; Carbon corrosion; Carbon nanotubes; Carbon fibers; Polyhedral carbon nanofoams; Phosphonated hydrocarbon ionomer; Mass-transport losses; Electrode morphology; Electrode collapse; Start-up and shut-down; System strategies; Stainless steel; Bi-polar plates; In-situ contact resistance.
National Category
Chemical Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-133437 (URN)978-91-7501-890-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-11-22, Kollegisalen, Brinellvägen 8, plan 4, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20131104

Available from: 2013-11-04 Created: 2013-11-01 Last updated: 2013-11-04Bibliographically approved

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