Performance of a High Temperature Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell with Low Catalyst Loading Produced by Reactive Spray Deposition Technology
In the current work, gas diffusion electrodes (GDE) for a high temperature PEMFC are fabricated via Reactive Spray Deposition Technology (RSDT) [2,3]. This flame based deposition technique produces Pt nanoparticles through combustion of a precursor solution consisting of a metal organic compound (platinum(II) acetylacetonate) dissolved in a high enthalpy solvent (a mixture of xylene, acetone, and propane). The Pt catalyst is attached to a carbon support, Vulcan XC-72R in this case. This is accomplished by spraying a carbon based slurry, containing a PTFE binder, through secondary nozzles into the path of the Pt nanoparticles in the post luminous zone of the flame. In order to produce the GDE (5×5cm), the resulting spray from the RSDT process is directed at a gas diffusion layer substrate (SIGRACET® GDL25BC, 5×5cm). The resulting GDEs were then hot pressed to an ADVENT® membrane doped with 85wt% phosphoric acid to produce the 5×5cm single cell.
A study of the effect of the binder to carbon ratio (PTFE/Vulcan XC-72R) on cell performance and structure was performed through the use of polarization scans, cyclic voltammetry, mercury porosimetry, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). PTFE/Vulcan XC-72R ratios ranging from 0.1 to 1 were studied. It was determined experimentally that the best performance resulted from a binder to carbon ratio of 0.9. This is believed to be due to the well-developed Pt nanoparticle distribution, small pores and uniform pore size distributions, and high electrochemical surface area. These experimental results will be coupled with a semi empirical model to mimic cell performance based on the catalyst agglomerate concept . An attempt will be made to link the physical characteristics of the RSDT produced GDE to the appropriate parameters of the model to develop a firm understanding of the influence of the RSDT process parameters on catalyst structure and performance.
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The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge financial support provided by the National Science Foundation. Advents Technology Inc. is also gratefully acknowledged for supplying the membranes used in this study.