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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reactive impinging-flow technique for polymer-electrolyte-fuel-cell electrode-defect detection


Reactive impinging flow (RIF) is a novel quality-control method for defect detection (i.e., reduction in Pt catalyst loading) in gas-diffusion electrodes (GDEs) on weblines. The technique uses infrared thermography to detect temperature of a nonflammable (<4% H2) reactive mixture of H2/O2 in N2 impinging and reacting on a Pt catalytic surface. In this paper, different GDE size defects (with catalyst-loading reductions of 25, 50, and 100%) are detected at various webline speeds (3.048 and 9.144 m min−1) and gas flowrates (32.5 or 50 standard L min−1). Furthermore, a model is developed and validated for the technique, and it is subsequently used to optimize operating conditions and explore the applicability of the technique to a range of defects. The model suggests that increased detection can be achieved by recting more of the impinging H2, which can be accomplished by placing blocking substrates on the top, bottom, or both of the GDE; placing a substrate on both results in a factor of four increase in the temperature differential, which is needed for smaller defect detection. Overall, the RIF technique is shown to be a promising route for in-line, high-speed, large-area detection of GDE defects on moving weblines.

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