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Title: Thin film surface modifications of thin/tunable liquid/gas diffusion layers for high-efficiency proton exchange membrane electrolyzer cells

We present that a proton exchange membrane electrolyzer cell (PEMEC) is one of the most promising devices for high-efficiency and low-cost energy storage and ultrahigh purity hydrogen production. As one of the critical components in PEMECs, the titanium thin/tunable LGDL (TT-LGDL) with its advantages of small thickness, planar surface, straight-through pores, and well-controlled pore morphologies, achieved superior multifunctional performance for hydrogen and oxygen production from water splitting even at low temperature. Different thin film surface treatments on the novel TT-LGDLs for enhancing the interfacial contacts and PEMEC performance were investigated both in-situ and ex-situ for the first time. Surface modified TT-LGDLs with about 180 nm thick Au thin film yielded performance improvement (voltage reduction), from 1.6849 V with untreated TT-LGDLs to only 1.6328 V with treated TT-LGDLs at 2.0 A/cm 2 and 80°C. Furthermore, the hydrogen/oxygen production rate was increased by about 28.2% at 1.60 V and 80°C. The durability test demonstrated that the surface treated TT-LGDL has good stability as well. Finally, the gold electroplating surface treatment is a promising method for the PEMEC performance enhancement and titanium material protection even in harsh environment.
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  1. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States). Nanodynamics and High-Efficiency Lab for Propulsion and Power (NanoHELP), Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Biomedical Engineering, UT Space Institute
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0306-2619
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308; FE0011585
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Applied Energy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 206; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0306-2619
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; liquid/gas diffusion layers; surface treatment; proton exchange membrane electrolyzer cells; electroplating; water splitting; hydrogen/oxygen production
OSTI Identifier: