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Patterned Membranes for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells Working at Low Humidity


High performing proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) that can operate at low relative humidity is a continuing technical challenge for PEMFC developers. In this work, micro-patterned membranes are demonstrated at the cathode side by solution casting techniques using stainless steel moulds with laser-imposed periodic surface structures (LIPSS). Three types of patterns, lotus, lines, and sharklet, are investigated for their influence on the PEMFC power performance at varying humidity conditions. The experimental results show that the cathode electrolyte pattern, in all cases, enhances the fuel cell power performance at 100% relative humidity (RH). However, only the sharklet pattern exhibits a significant improvement at 25% RH, where a peak power density of 450 mW cm−2 is recorded compared with 150 mW cm−2 of the conventional flat membrane. The improvements are explored based on high-frequency resistance, electrochemically active surface area (ECSA), and hydrogen crossover by in situ membrane electrode assembly (MEA) testing.

Funding source: UK EPSRC within the CDT in Fuel Cells and their Fuels, EP/L015749/1.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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