Functionally graded cathode catalyst layers for polymer electrolyte fuel cells. I, Theoretical modeling

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DOIResolve DOI: http://doi.org/10.1149/1.1753580
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TypeArticle
Journal titleJournal of The Electrochemical Society
ISSN0013-4651
1945-7111
Volume151
Issue7
PagesA950A957
Subjectorganic compounds; catalysts; diffusion; ionic conductivity; percolation; proton exchange membrane fuel cells
AbstractThe effect of Nafion loading on the electrode polarization characteristics of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell is studied with a macrohomogeneous model. The composition dependence of performance is rationalized by first relating mass fractions of the different components to their volume fractions and thereafter involving concepts of percolation theory to parameterize effective properties of the cathode catalyst layers. In particular, we explore systematically the effect of Nafion content on the performance. For a uniform layer, the best performance is obtained with a Nafion content of about 35 wt %, representing an optimum balance of proton transport, oxygen diffusion, and electrochemically active surface area. With the help of this modeling tool, we propose a nonuniform Nafion catalyst layer and the modeling indicates that such a layer improves performance. Our preliminary experiments (to appear in Part II) confirm this claim. The two cases of nonuniform Nafion distribution across the entire thickness include: a three-sublayer structure with equally thick layers, simulating a constant gradient, and a two-sublayer structure with variable thickness of the sublayers. Compared with the optimum Nafion content (35 wt %) in uniform distribution, the three-sublayer structure with higher Nafion content on the membrane side exhibits significantly enhanced performance. © 2004 The Electrochemical Society. All rights reserved.
Publication date
PublisherElectrochemical Society
LanguageEnglish
AffiliationNational Research Council Canada; NRC Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number23002000
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Record identifierea82abd5-7ec8-471c-80e4-1e7e7560696a
Record created2017-07-14
Record modified2017-07-14
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