Water management in novel direct membrane deposition fuel cells under low humidification

M. Breitwieser, R. Moroni, J. Schock, M. Schulz, B. Schillinger, F. Pfeiffer, R. Zengerle, S. Thiele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) fabricated by direct membrane deposition (DMD) were shown to work even at dry conditions without significant deterioration of the membrane resistance. Here, in situ neutron radiography is used to investigate the water management in those fuel cells to uncover the phenomena that lead to the robust operation under low humidification. A constant level of humidification within the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) of a DMD fuel cell is observed even under dry anode operation and 15% relative humidity on the cathode side. This proves a pronounced back diffusion of generated water from the cathode side to the anode side through the thin deposited membrane layer. Over the entire range of polarization curves a very high similarity of the water evolution in anode and cathode flow fields is found in spite of different humidification levels. It is shown that the power density of directly deposited membranes in contrast to a 50 μm thick N-112 membrane is only marginally affected by dry operation conditions. Water profiles in through-plane direction of the MEA reveal that the water content in the DMD fuel cell remains steady even at high current densities. This is in contrast to the N-112 reference fuel cell which shows a strong increase in membrane resistance and a reduced MEA water content with raising current densities. Thus this new MEA fabrication technique has a promising perspective, since dry operation conditions are highly requested in order to reduce fuel cell system costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11412-11417
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Volume41
Issue number26
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • Back diffusion
  • Direct membrane deposition
  • Neutron radiography
  • PEMFCs
  • Water management

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