Description: Polymer-Electrolyte-Fuel-Cells (PEFCs) are promising candidates for powering vehicles and portable devices using renewable-energy sources. The core of a PEFC is the solid electrolyte membrane that conducts protons from anode to cathode, where water is generated. The conductivity of the membrane, however, depends on the water content of the membrane, which is strongly related to the cell operating conditions. The membrane and other cell components are typically compressed to minimize various contact resistances. Moreover, the swelling of a somewhat constrained membrane in the cell due to the humidity changes generates additional compressive stresses in the membrane. These external stresses are balanced by the internal swelling pressure of the membrane and change the swelling equilibrium. It was shown using a fuel-cell setup that compression could reduce the water content of the membrane or alter the cell resistance. Nevertheless, the effect of compression on the membrane’s transport properties is yet to be understood, as well as its implications in the structure-functions relationships of the membrane. We previously studied, both experimentally and theoretically, how compression affects the water content of the membrane.6 However, more information is required the gain a fundamental understanding of the compression effects. In this talk, we present the results of our investigation on the in-situ conductivity of the membrane as a function of humidity and cell compression pressure. Moreover, to better understand the morphology of compressed membrane, small-angle X-ray-scattering (SAXS) experiments were performed. The conductivity data is then analyzed by investigating the size of the water domains of the compressed membrane determined from the SAXS measurements.
Date: July 20, 2011
Creator: Kusoglu, Ahmet; Weber, Adam; Jiang, Ruichin & Gittleman, Craig
Item Type: Article