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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exploring substrate/ionomer interaction under oxidizing and reducing environments

  • Author(s): Tesfaye, M
  • MacDonald, AN
  • Dudenas, PJ
  • Kusoglu, A
  • Weber, AZ
  • et al.
Abstract

Local gas transport limitation attributed to the ionomer thin-film in the catalyst layer is a major deterrent to widespread commercialization of polymer-electrolyte fuel cells. So far functionality and limitations of these thin-films have been assumed identical in the anode and cathode. In this study, Nafion ionomer thin-films on platinum(Pt) support were exposed to H and air as model schemes, mimicking anode and cathode catalyst layers. Findings indicate decreased swelling, increased densification of ionomer matrix, and increased humidity-induced aging rates in reducing environment, compared to oxidizing and inert environments. Observed phenomenon could be related to underlying Pt-gas interaction dictating Pt-ionomer behavior. Presented results could have significant implications about the disparate behavior of ionomer thin-film in anode and cathode catalyst layers. 2

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