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Research Papers

Investigation of the Effects of Catalyst Loading and Gas Flow Rate on Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell Performance and Degradation

[+] Author and Article Information
Anthony C. Okafor

Mem. ASME e-mail: okafor@mst.eduDepartment of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,  Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409-0050

Hector-Martins C. Mogbo

Mem. ASME e-mail: okafor@mst.eduhcmvk3@mst.eduDepartment of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,  Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409-0050hcmvk3@mst.edu

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 9(1), 011006 (Dec 19, 2011) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005120 History: Received May 18, 2010; Revised September 16, 2011; Published December 19, 2011; Online December 19, 2011

In this paper, the effects of gas flow rates and catalyst loading on polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) performance was investigated using a 50 cm2 active area fuel cell fixture with serpentine flow field channels machined into poco graphite blocks. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with catalyst and gas flow rates at two levels each (0.5 mg/cm2 , 1 mg/cm2 ; 0.3 l/min, 0.5 l/min, respectively) were tested at 60 °C without humidification. The cell performance was analyzed by taking ac impedance, Tafel plot, open circuit voltage, and area specific resistance measurements. It was observed that MEAs with lower gas flow rate had lesser cell resistance compared to MEAs with a higher gas flow rate. Tafel plot shows the highest exchange current density value of 10− 2.05 mA cm2 for MEA with 0.5 mg/cm2 catalyst loading tested at reactant gas flow rate of 0.3 l/min signifying it had the least activation loss and fastest reaction rate. Open circuit voltage-time curve shows a higher output voltage and lesser voltage decay rate for MEAs tested at higher gas flow rates.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Schematic of a PEM fuel cell

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Figure 2

Fuel cell with load: (a) in open circuit and (b) load connected

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Figure 3

Tafel plots for slow and fast electrochemical reactions

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Figure 4

Equivalent circuit representing a fuel cell

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Figure 5

Resulting complex impedance at various frequencies of a cell

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Figure 6

PEM fuel cell experimental setup

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Figure 7

Picture showing single serpentine flow field configurations used for PEM fuel cell testing

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Figure 8

Nyquist plot of a fuel cell with MEAs of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 catalyst loading tested at gas flow rates of 0.3 l/min

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Figure 9

Nyquist plot of a fuel cell with MEAs of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 catalyst loading tested at gas flow rates of 0.5 l/min

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Figure 10

Bode plot of MEA with 1 mg/cm2 Pt/C catalyst loading tested at a gas flow rates of 0.3 l/min

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Figure 11

Bode plot of MEA with 0.5 mg/cm2 Pt/C catalyst loading tested at a gas flow rates of 0.3 l/min

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Figure 12

Bode plot of MEA with 1 mg/cm2 Pt/C catalyst loading tested at a gas flow rates of 0.5 l/min

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Figure 13

Bode plot of MEA with 0.5 mg/cm2 Pt/C catalyst loading tested at a gas flow rates of 0.5 l/min

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Figure 14

Tafel plot for MEA catalyst loading and gas flow rate combinations

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Figure 15

Open circuit voltage-time graph

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Figure 16

Area specific resistance plot of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 catalyst loading MEA at gas flow rates of 0.3 l/min

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Figure 17

Area specific resistance plot of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 catalyst loading MEA at gas flow rates of 0.5 l/min

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Figure 18

Impedance-time measurement of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 MEA catalyst loading tested at gas flow rate of 0.3 l/min

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Figure 19

Impedance-time measurement of 0.5 and 1 mg/cm2 MEA catalyst loading tested at gas flow rate of 0.5 l/min

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Figure 20

Picture showing PEM experimental setup

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Figure 21

Picture showing PEM experimental setup with data acquisition device

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