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Title: Beyond catalysis and membranes: visualizing and solving the challenge of electrode water accumulation and flooding in AEMFCs

A majority of anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) reported in the literature have been unable to achieve high current or power. A recently proposed theory is that the achievable current is largely limited by poorly balanced water during cell operation. In this article, we present convincing experimental results – coupling operando electrochemical measurements and neutron imaging – supporting this theory and allowing the amount and distribution of water, and its impact on AEMFC performance, to be quantified for the first time. We also create new electrode compositions by systematically manipulating the ionomer and carbon content in the anode catalyst layer, which allowed us to alleviate the mass transport behavior limitations of H 2/O 2 AEMFCs and achieve a new record-setting peak power density of 1.9 W cm -2 – a step-change to existing literature. Our efforts cast a new light on the design and optimization of AEMFCs – potentially changing the way that AEMFCs are constructed and operated.
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [3] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (United States). Dept. of Chemical Engineering; Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT (United States). Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  2. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  3. National Inst. of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, MD (United States)
  4. Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT (United States). Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  5. Univ. of Surrey, Guildford (United Kingdom). Dept. of Chemistry
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1754-5692; EESNBY
Grant/Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308; SC0010531; AI01-01EE50660; EP/M014371/1
Published Article
Journal Name:
Energy & Environmental Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1754-5692
Royal Society of Chemistry
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou (China); Univ. of Surrey, Guildford (United Kingdom); Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Country of Publication:
United States
30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; alkaline fuel cells; carbon; fuel cells; ion exchange membranes
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1432604