Modeling Synergistic Fuel Cell Membrane Degradation with Mitigating Effects of Cerium
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Modeling Synergistic Fuel Cell Membrane Degradation with Mitigating Effects of Cerium

  • Author(s): Ehlinger, Victoria Marie;
  • Kusoglu, Ahmet;
  • Weber, Adam Z
  • et al.
Abstract

During operation, polymer-electrolyte-membrane (PEM) fuel cells undergo mechanical and chemical degradation mechanisms, which behave synergistically and lead to accelerated membrane degradation over time. This study builds upon previous modeling work on mechanical degradation as described by a pinhole in the membrane and the effects of cerium on chemical degradation.1 By combining these two models, analysis can be carried out on the coupled degradation methods and how the mitigation effects of cerium disrupt the degradation cycle. The mechanical model represents a pinhole in the membrane using an effective void fraction, which allows for increased gas crossover through the membrane and impacts the membrane transport and mechanical properties. A microkinetic model for the chemical degradation is included in the model, including attack of the membrane polymer by hydroxyl radicals as well as the mitigation reaction for quenching of hydroxyl radicals with cerium. A concentrated solution theory approach is used to model the transport of cerium ions throughout the cell.2 The model results show how the location of cerium in the cell can be used to prevent chemical degradation. In addition, the model shows how cerium slows down the rate of pinhole growth by reducing the gas crossover and membrane thinning rate. Finally, the model can be used to optimize the distribution of cerium in the membrane and catalyst layers by balancing trade-offs between lowering degradation rates and decreasing fuel cell performance. Acknowledgements: Funding support was supplied by the Fuel Cell Performance and Durability Consortium (FC-PAD), by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), of the U.S. Department of Energy under contract number DE-AC02-05CH11231. The authors would like to acknowledge Grace Anderson and Claire Arthurs for their work on membrane characterization experiments. V. M. Ehlinger, A. Kusoglu and A. Z. Weber, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 166, F3255 (2019). A. R. Crothers, R. M. Darling, A. Kusoglu, C. J. Radke and A. Z. Weber, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 167, 013548 (2020).

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