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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Observation of Preferential Pathways for Oxygen Removal through Porous Transport Layers of Polymer Electrolyte Water Electrolyzers.

  • Author(s): Satjaritanun, Pongsarun
  • O'Brien, Maeve
  • Kulkarni, Devashish
  • Shimpalee, Sirivatch
  • Capuano, Cristopher
  • Ayers, Katherine E
  • Danilovic, Nemanja
  • Parkinson, Dilworth Y
  • Zenyuk, Iryna V
  • et al.

Understanding the relationships between porous transport layer (PTL) morphology and oxygen removal is essential to improve the polymer electrolyte water electrolyzer (PEWE) performance. Operando X-ray computed tomography and machine learning were performed on a model electrolyzer at different water flow rates and current densities to determine how these operating conditions alter oxygen transport in the PTLs. We report a direct observation of oxygen taking preferential pathways through the PTL, regardless of the water flow rate or current density (1-4 A/cm2). Oxygen distribution in the PTL had a periodic behavior with period of 400 μm. A computational fluid dynamics model was used to predict oxygen distribution in the PTL showing periodic oxygen front. Observed oxygen distribution is due to low in-plane PTL tortuosity and high porosity enabling merging of oxygen bubbles in the middle of the PTL and also due to aerophobicity of the layer.

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