Characterization of ionomer properties of the catalyst layers of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs)
The state-of-the-art polymer electrolyte fuel cells have catalyst layers (CLs) made of platinum catalyst on carbon support (Pt/C) bound together by proton conducting polymer or ionomer. To overcome the challenges of high cost of Platinum catalyst and corrosion of carbon support, alternative materials for catalyst and catalyst support are being considered. The interaction of ionomer with catalyst and itsa support materials controls two factors that profoundly affects the CL Performance: the micro-scale structure of the CL and ionomer propoerties in the catalyst layer. The proposed research aims to carry out a systematic study of -characterizing the propoerties of ultra-thin films of different ionomers on various substrates.This work fills in the gap in knowledge of how different ionomer types interact with different catalyst/catalyst support and ultimately affect the catalyst layer structure, property, and performance. The fundamental knowledge generated will be used to fabricate CLs layer with desirable characteristics of high catalyst utilization and enhanced electrochemical performance.