Degradation of Pt-Based Cathode Catalysts Upon Voltage Cycling in Single-Cell PEM Fuel Cells Under Air or N2 at Different Relative Humidities

Leonardo I. Astudillo, Hubert A. Gasteiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

A major degradation mechanism of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) in transportation applications is the loss of the electrochemically active surface area (ECSA) of platinum cathode catalysts upon dynamic load cycling (resulting in cathode potential cycles). This is commonly investigated by accelerated stress tests (ASTs), cycling the cell voltage under H2/N2 (anode/cathode). Here we examine the degradation of membrane electrode assemblies with Vulcan carbon supported Pt catalysts over extended square-wave voltage cycles between 0.6-1.0 VRHE at 80 °C and 30%-100% RH under either H2/N2 or H2/Air; for the latter case, differential reactant flows were used, and the lower potential limit is controlled to correspond to the high-frequency resistance corrected cell voltage, assuring comparable aging conditions. Over the course of the ASTs, changes of the ECSA, the hydrogen crossover current, the proton conduction resistance and the oxygen transport resistance of the cathode electrode, as well as the differential-flow H2/O2 and H2/Air performance at 80 °C/100% RH were monitored. While the ECSA loss decreases with decreasing RH, it is independent of the gas feeds. Furthermore, the H2/Air performance loss only depends on the ECSA loss. ASTs under H2/N2 versus H2/Air only differ with regards to the chemical/mechanical degradation of the membrane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124512
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Volume170
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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