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Tuning Gas-Diffusion-Layer Surface Wettability for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Prodip DasORCiD


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In the present scenario of a global initiative toward securing global net-zero by mid-century and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach, polymer-electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) are considered to play an important role in the energy transition, particularly for the decarbonization of transit buses, trucks, rail transport, ships and ferries, and the residential heating sector. However, PEFCs are not economically competitive with the internal combustion engine powertrains [1]. Moreover, their durability standards in widely varying conditions have yet to be established and water management remains a critical issue for performance degradation and durability [1-3]. Thus, the mission of my research team is to conduct original research to make PEFCs economically viable and optimize their performance and durability [4,5]. In this talk, I will highlight our research on PEFC’s gas diffusion layer (GDL), as its interfaces with the flow channel and microporous layer play a significant role in water management. This research was aimed at selectively modifying GDL surfaces with a hydrophobic pattern to improve water transport and water removal from flow channels; thus, improving the durability and performance of PEFCs. Sigracet® GDLs were used as a base substrate and two different monomers, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) added with fumed silica (Si) and fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) were used to print a selective pattern on the GDL surfaces [6]. Both the additive manufacturing and spray coating techniques were utilized for creating the hydrophobic pattern on the GDL surfaces. The results of this study demonstrated a novel but simple approach to tune GDL surfaces with selective wetting properties and superhydrophobic interfaces that would enhance water transport. I will discuss some of these results and highlight how these results will benefit the water management of next-generation high-power PEFCs. This work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/P03098X/1) and the STFC Batteries Network (ST/R006873/1) and was supported by SGL Carbon SE ( References [1] A.Z. Weber et al., "A critical review of modeling transport phenomena in polymer electrolyte fuel cells," J. Electrochem. Soc., vol. 161, pp. F1254-F1299, 2014. [2] A.D. Santamaria et al., "Liquid-water interactions with gas-diffusion layers surfaces," J. Electrochem. Soc., vol. 161, pp. F1184-F1193, 2014. [3] P.K. Das and A.Z. Weber, "Water management in PEMFC with ultra-thin catalyst-layers," ASME 11th Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology Conference, Paper No. FuelCell2013-18010, pp. V001T01A002, 2013. [4] L. Xing et al., "Membrane electrode assemblies for PEM fuel cells: A review of functional graded design and optimization," Energy, vol. 177, pp. 445-464, 2019. [5] L. Xing et al., "Inhomogeneous distribution of platinum and ionomer in the porous cathode to maximize the performance of a PEM fuel cell," AIChE J., vol. 63, pp. 4895-4910, 2017. [6] D. Thumbarathy et al., "Fabrication and characterization of tuneable flow-channel/gas-diffusion-layer interface for polymer electrolyte fuel cells," J. Electrochem. Energy Convers. Storage, vol. 17, pp. 011010, 2020.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Das P

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 241st ECS Meeting

Year of Conference: 2022

Pages: 1709-1709

Print publication date: 07/07/2022

Acceptance date: 14/02/2022

Date deposited: 20/07/2022

ISSN: 2151-2043

Publisher: The Electrochemical Society


DOI: 10.1149/ma2022-01381709mtgabs

Notes: Invited Digital Presentation

Series Title: ECS Meeting Abstracts