Preparation and performance of membrane electrode assemblies with nafion and alternative polymer electrolyte membranes

Şengül, Erce
Hydrogen and oxygen or air polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell is one of the most promising electrical energy conversion devices for a sustainable future due to its high efficiency and zero emission. Membrane electrode assembly (MEA), in which electrochemical reactions occur, is stated to be the heart of the fuel cell. The aim of this study was to develop methods for preparation of MEA with alternative polymer electrolyte membranes and compare their performances with the conventional Nafion® membrane. The alternative membranes were sulphonated polyether-etherketone (SPEEK), composite, blend with sulphonated polyethersulphone (SPES), and polybenzimidazole (PBI). Several powder type MEA preparation techniques were employed by using Nafion® membrane. These were GDL Spraying, Membrane Spraying, and Decal methods. GDL Spraying and Decal were determined as the most efficient and proper MEA preparation methods. These methods were tried to improve further by changing catalyst loading, introducing pore forming agents, and treating membrane and GDL. The highest performance, which was 0.53 W/cm2, for Nafion® membrane was obtained at 70 0C cell temperature. In comparison, it was about 0.68 W/cm2 for a commercial MEA at the same temperature. MEA prepared with SPEEK membrane resulted in lower performance. Moreover, it was found that SPEEK membrane was not suitable for high temperature operation. It was stable up to 80 0C under the cell operating conditions. However, with the blend of 10 wt% SPES to SPEEK, the operating temperature was raised up to 90 0C without any membrane deformation. The highest power outputs were 0.29 W/cm2 (at 70 0C) and 0.27 W/cm2 (at 80 0C) for SPEEK and SPEEK-PES blend membrane based MEAs. The highest temperature, which was 150 0C, was attained with PBI based MEA during fuel cell tests.


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Citation Formats
E. Şengül, “Preparation and performance of membrane electrode assemblies with nafion and alternative polymer electrolyte membranes,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2007.