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Technical Briefs

Development of a Reference Electrode for a PEMFC Single Cell Allowing an Evaluation of Plate Potentials

[+] Author and Article Information
Johan Andre

 CEA-LITEN, 17 Rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, Francejohan_g_andre@yahoo.fr

Nicolas Guillet

 CEA-LITEN, 17 Rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, Francenicolas.guillet@cea.fr

Jean-Pierre Petit

 LEPMI/ENSEEG/UMR CNRS/INPG/UJF, 5631 Domaine Universitaire, BP 75 F-38402, 38402 Saint Martin d'Hères, Cedex, Francejean-pierre.petit@enseeg.inpg.fr

Laurent Antoni

 CEA-LITEN, 17 Rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble Cedex 9, Francelaurent.antoni@cea.fr

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 7(4), 044501 (Apr 08, 2010) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000674 History: Received October 28, 2008; Revised September 29, 2009; Published April 08, 2010; Online April 08, 2010

Increasing lifetime and performance is critical for proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) using stainless steel plates. A good compromise between passivity and electrical contact resistance of the plate material is required. Measuring the potential of each plate during fuel cell operation is of paramount importance to lead to relevant ex situ tests in order to investigate new materials. From a review on methods used for potential measurements, the present work focused on the realization and use of a dynamic hydrogen electrode (DHE) device as a reference electrode in a PEMFC single cell and its evaluation in terms of accuracy and drift. With classic reference electrodes introduced into the flow field, measurements were shown to be irrelevant because of the impossibility to ensure good and stable ionic conductivity between the reference electrode and the plate when operating the cell. Several examples of DHE found in the literature were reviewed and used to realize a DHE, which showed correct accuracy and stability of its potential under fully humidified conditions. The experimental device was shown to be reliable and easily adaptable for different single cells. It was used to investigate transient phenomena while cycling a cell, but needs some improvement when the cell is operated with unsaturated gases.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 7

E=f(t) with 100% humidified residual gases 25 cm2 single cell test, H2/air, room temperature, and atmospheric pressure

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Figure 8

Polarization curve with 25 cm2 single cell test, H2/O2, stoichiometric factors 1.2/1.5, 100%RH, 1.5 bars absolute, and 60°C – DHE powered by a voltage source

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Figure 9

Polarization curve with 25 cm2 single cell test, H2/O2, stoichiometric factors 1.2/1.5, 100%RH, 1.5 bars absolute, and 60°C – DHE powered by a current source

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Figure 10

Polarization curve with 25 cm2 single cell test, H2/air, stoichiometric factors 1.2/2.0, 100%RH, 1.5 bars absolute, and 60°C

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Figure 11

I=f(E) curves from previous polarization curves under oxygen and under air

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Figure 12

Electrolysis current versus DHE potential

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Figure 13

Evolution of electrode potentials during current cycling under oxygen

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Figure 14

Evolution of electrode potentials during current cycling under air

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Figure 15

Transient behavior of electrode potentials during current cycling

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Figure 16

Polarization curve of bright annealed AISI 316L SS in a typical PEMFC environment

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Figure 17

Effect of fuel starvation on electrode potentials

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Figure 18

Effect of fuel and oxygen starvation on electrode potentials with fully humidified gases

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Figure 19

Effect of fuel and oxygen starvation on electrode potentials with 50% humidified gases

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Figure 3

Schematic representation of the experimental DHE device

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Figure 2

Photographs of the modified experimental device with a Flexref reference microelectrode

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Figure 1

Current cycle used for transient phenomena characterization

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Figure 6

Example of polarization curve with 25 cm2 single cell test, H2/air, stoichiometric factors 1.2/2.0 100%RH, 1.5 bars absolute, and 60°C

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Figure 5

Device for measuring DHE potential

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Figure 4

Measuring chain between monopolar plate and reference electrode

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