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TECHNICAL BRIEFS

MEAs for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell (PEFC) Working at Medium Temperature

[+] Author and Article Information
I. Gatto1

 CNR-ITAE, via Salita S. Lucia sopra Contesse, 98126 Messina, Italygatto@itae.cnr.it

A. Saccà, A. Carbone, R. Pedicini, E. Passalacqua

 CNR-ITAE, via Salita S. Lucia sopra Contesse, 98126 Messina, Italy

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 3(3), 361-365 (Feb 08, 2006) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2217959 History: Received November 30, 2005; Revised February 08, 2006

Recently, the CNR-ITAE activity has been addressed to the components development (electrodes and membranes) able to work in medium temperature PEFCs (80130°C). One of the main problems to work at these temperatures is the proton conductivity loss due to a not full hydration of the membrane. For this reason a study on the modification of perfluorosulphonic membranes (like Nafion) was carried out by introducing different percentages of inorganic oxides (like SiO2, ZrO2) in the polymer matrix. These compounds have the function to improve the properties of the materials at high temperature due to their characteristics of softly proton conductor and/or hygroscopicity. The membranes were prepared by the Doctor-Blade casting technique that permits a good check of the thickness and a good reproducibility. A commercial ZrO2 was used to prepare the membranes varying the inorganic amount between 3 and 20wt%. The most promising results were obtained at 120°C with a Nafion-recast membrane loaded with a 10wt%ZrO2; a power density value of about 330mWcm2 at 0.6V was reached. On the other side, an optimization of the electrode structure was carried out, by introducing the inorganic oxide in the catalyst layer in order to improve the performance in the range of considered temperature. By using a spray technique, thin film electrodes with a Pt loading of 0.5mgcm2 in the catalyst layer, low PTFE content in the diffusion layer and a 30% Pt/Vulcan (E-Tek, Inc.) as an electro catalyst were prepared. Different amounts of ZrO2 were introduced in the catalytic layer of the electrodes to increase the working temperature and help the water management of the fuel cell. These electrodes assembled to the modified membrane have shown a better performance at higher cell temperature than standard MEA with a power density of about 330mWcm2 at 130°C.

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Copyright © 2006 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

x-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis on the composite Nafion-ZrO2 membranes compared to the commercial ZrO2 powder; in the square, commercial N115 and homemade bare (N16) membranes comparison is reported

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Figure 2

Thermo-gravimetric analyses on the composite membranes compared to home-made bare Nafion membrane

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Figure 3

Zr, F, and S-mapping of NZR2 membrane

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Figure 4

Polarization curves for all tested membranes at T=80°C

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Figure 5

Polarization curves for all tested membranes at T=110°C

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Figure 6

Maximum power density curve for NZr2 membrane at T=120°C

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Figure 7

Polarization curves for all tested electrodes at T=80°C

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Figure 8

Polarization curves for all tested electrodes at T=120°C

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Figure 9

Polarization curves comparison at T=80°C and T=120°C for ZRO2 electrode

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Figure 10

Polarizations and power density curves for CNR SE MEA and Composite MEA at T=130°C

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