Development of Ex-situ Mechanical Durability Tools and Thermo-mechanical Design Curves for Fuel Cell Membranes
Hydrogen powered polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are a clean energy technology that generates electricity without harmful emissions at the point of use. Current R&D efforts mainly target to commercialize PEMFCs through cost reduction and durability enhancement. The lifetime of PEMFC is limited by the degradation and failure of the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). The proposed research project addresses the mechanical degradation mechanism, a key factor reducing the lifetime of PEMs, by developing in-house ex-situ mechanical durability evaluation tools. The progression of decay in mechanical properties will be characterized over time using the developed mechanical durability protocol without the requirement of a costly in-situ experiment. Furthermore, the thermo-mechanical behaviour of the PEM materials as a function of temperature, relative humidity, and pressure will be investigated. The results will be used to inform strategies for material development, device integration, processing, and operation while reducing product development time and cost.