Evaluation of the Effect of Microporous Sublayer Design and Fabrication on Performance and Adhesion in PEM Fuel Cell Assemblies

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Virginia Tech

The typical architecture of the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) contains a layer called the microporous sublayer (MSL). The MSL is a mixture of carbon black and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is typically applied to the gas diffusion layer (GDL). The composition (wt.% PTFE) and loading (mg/cm2) can be varied to optimize the electrochemical performance of the PEMFC and the overall adhesion of the layers within the PEMFC. This research establishes correlations that characterize the performance and adhesion of the layers within the PEMFC based on composition, loading, fabrication pressure, and fabrication time. MSL loading was varied from 1.5-4 mg/cm2, composition was varied from 10-50 wt.% PTFE, fabrication pressure was varied from 3.45-10.34 MPa, and fabrication time was varied from 2-8 minutes. Using these four factors, correlations were created, and optimal solutions for each response were identified. The adhesion correlation identifies a low MSL loading, mid-range MSL composition, high fabrication pressure, and high fabrication time as desirable factors. The performance correlation suggests that the PEMFC performance is enhanced with low MSL loadings, low MSL PTFE content, and a low fabrication pressure and does not find fabrication time to be a significant factor in the correlation.

Water Management Layer, Catalyst Support Layer, Microporous Sublayer, PEMFC, Fuel Cell