LINEAR AND NONLINEAR VISCOELASTIC CHARACTERIZATION OF PROTON EXCHANGE MEMBRANES AND STRESS MODELING FOR FUEL CELL APPLICATIONS
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The fracture properties were studied by cutting membranes using a sharp knife mounted on a specially designed fixture. Again, various temperature and humidity conditions were used, and the fracture energy of the membranes was recorded as a function of cutting rate. Fracture energy master curves with respect to reduced cutting rates were constructed to get some idea about the intrinsic fracture energy of the membrane. The shift factors obtained from the fracture tests were found to match with those obtained from the stress relaxation experiments, suggesting that the knife cutting process is viscoelastic in nature. The rate and temperature dependence for these fracture energies are consistent with the rate, temperature, and moisture dependence of the relaxation modulus, suggesting the usefulness of a viscoelastic framework for examining and modeling durability of fuel cell membranes. The intrinsic fracture energy was initially thought to be a differentiating factor, which would separate various membranes tested in this study from one another. However, it was later found that all the membranes tested showed similar values at lower cutting rates, but showed significant variation at higher reduced cutting rates, and thus was thought to be a more meaningful region to differentiate the membranes for durability understanding.
While the preceding work was undertaken to characterize as-received commercial PEMs, it is possible to modify material properties through treatment processes including thermal annealing and water treatment. The transient and dynamic viscoelastic properties of water-treated Nafion membranes revealed unusual behavior. Such unusual properties might have originated from irreversible morphological changes in PEM. Besides the constitutive viscoelastic properties, another set of properties useful for the stress modeling is the hygral strain induced as a function of relative humidity (RH) The effect of pretreatment on hygral strains induced as a function of RH was also investigated. These studies suggest that pretreatment significantly changes the mechanical properties of proton exchange membranes.
- Doctoral Dissertations