Research Papers

Ex Situ Characterization Method for Flooding in Gas Diffusion Layers and Membrane Electrode Assemblies With a Hydrophilic Gas Diffusion Layer

[+] Author and Article Information
Toshihiro Tanuma

Research Center,
Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.,
1150 Hazawa-cho, Kanagawa-ku,
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 221-8755, Japan
e-mail: toshihiro-tanuma@agc.com

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received February 20, 2014; final manuscript received October 26, 2015; published online November 17, 2015. Editor: Wilson K. S. Chiu.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(6), 061002 (Nov 17, 2015) (6 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1023; doi: 10.1115/1.4031917 History: Received February 20, 2014; Revised October 26, 2015

Proper water management is required for the operation of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), in order to maintain the critical balance between adequate membrane hydration and prevention of water flooding in the catalyst layer. In PEFCs, the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is sandwiched between two gas diffusion layers (GDLs). In addition, a microporous layer (MPL) is generally applied to the GDL substrates for better water removal from the cathode catalyst layer. This paper is the first to report on an ex situ characterization method for water flooding in GDLs. As the humidity of O2 gas on the substrate side of the GDL was increased in incremental steps, O2 gas began to diffuse into the MPL side of the GDL. When the O2 relative humidity exceeded the dew point, water flooding was observed on the surface of the MPL and the O2 concentration dropped sharply because the O2 diffusion was suppressed by the produced liquid water. When comparing to the estimated mass transfer loss based on the actual polarization curves of an MEA using the GDL, it was found that the decrease in the O2 concentration on the MPL side of the GDL can be used as an index of water flooding in the PEFC.

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Fig. 1

Flow schematic in a MVDP (reproduced with the permission of Seika Corporation)

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Fig. 2

Gas diffusion through a GDL sample in the measuring chamber

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Fig. 3

Cooling metal block and the MPL surface after flooding

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Fig. 4

Flooding simulation in the measuring chamber

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Fig. 5

GDLs and MEAs used for flooding evaluation

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Fig. 6

(a)–(c) Change in O2 concentration resulting from change in O2 relative humidity

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Fig. 7

Decrease in O2 concentration from the initial value at 0% RH to that at 24, 43, and 57% RH

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Fig. 8

Pore size distribution of GDLs 1–3

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Fig. 9

Typical polarization curves of a PEFC

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Fig. 10

(a)–(c) Polarization curves and mass transfer loss for MEAs 1–3

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Fig. 11

Comparison of estimated mass transfer loss for MEAs 1–3 and the decrease in O2 concentration measured by the MVDP




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