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Title: DE-FG02-08ER64658 (OASIS) - Final Technical Report

Project OASIS (Operation of Advanced Structures, Interfaces and Sub-components for MEAs) was a 12 month project that ran from 1st September 2008 to 31st August 2009, and was managed by the Department of Energy Office of Science, Chicago Office, as Award No DE-FG02-08ER64658, with Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Inc. as the sole contractor. The project was completed on schedule, with technical successes (details below) and payment of the full grant award made by DOE. The aim of the project was the development of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for H2/air polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells that would give higher performance under hot/dry and dry operating conditions, ideally with no loss of performance under wet conditions. Reducing or eliminating the need for humidifying the incoming gases will allow significant system cost and size reduction for many fuel cell applications including automotive, stationary and back-up power, and portable systems. Portable systems are also of particular interest in military markets. In previous work Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells had developed very stable, corrosion-resistant catalysts suitable for resisting degradation by carbon corrosion in particular. These materials were applied within the OASIS project as they are considered necessary for systems such as automotive where multiple start-stopmore » events are experienced. These catalysts were contrasted with more conventional materials in the design of catalyst layers and novel microporous layers (MPLs) and gas diffusion layer (GDL) combinations were also explored. Early on in the work it was shown how much more aggressive high temperature operation is than dry operation. At the same humidity, tests at 110?C caused much more dehydration than tests at 80?C and the high temperature condition was much more revealing of improvements made to MEA design. Alloy catalysts were introduced and compared with Pt catalysts with a range of particle sizes. It was apparent that the larger particle sizes of the alloy catalysts led to a reduction in performance that offset much of their kinetic advantage. The Pt-only materials clearly showed that small particles are beneficial to good performance under hot/dry conditions, because of their higher surface area, although they are known to be less stable to cyclic operation. An ex-situ water vapour sorption technique was developed that showed a very clear correlation with in-cell performance: catalyst powders that absorbed more water gave better performance in-cell. It was shown that alloy catalysts could give a 25 mV advantage over Pt-only at 1 Acm-2. GDL design was also shown to influence performance and more permeable GDLs on the anode allowed better membrane hydration and therefore conductivity. A very impermeable GDL on the cathode caused cathode flooding even under dry conditions, but a novel cathode MPL incorporating ionomer and operating at 110?C, 33/17% RH showed a 150 mV gain at 800 mAcm-2 over the conventional MPL. This project has increased the understanding of the factors that influence performance loss under dry conditions, including the development of an insightful ex-situ characterisation technique (Dynamic Vapour Sorption). All the approaches investigated can be readily implemented in state-of the-art MEAs, although optimisation would be needed to integrate the new designs with existing MEA types and to tune to the exact range of operating conditions. The work is thus expected to benefit the public by feeding through more condition-tolerant production MEAs to a range of applications and thereby accelerate the commercialisation of fuel cell technology. In summary, a number of specific catalyst, catalyst layer, MPL and GDL improvements were made during this project. Often the best designs under dry conditions translated to some performance loss under wet conditions, but compromise situations were also found where dry performance was improved with no loss of wet performance.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Inc
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs), cathode catalyst layers, stabilized cathode catalysts, performance, wet and dry operating conditions