Journal of Power Sources, Vol.327, 526-534, 2016
Analyzing the influence of high electrode potentials on intrinsic properties of catalyst coated membranes using impedance spectroscopy
Catalyst layers (CLs) with varying ionomer contents are produced using a stencil coating and screen printing technique. The optimum ionomer content of 31-34 wt% confirms the findings of other groups and performance is found to be independent of production technique. A new CL impedance transition line model is developed and fitted to in-situ data. The results indicate that the protonic contact resistance between CL and membrane is an important factor for the used transfer-decal process, especially for CLs with low ionomer loading. When subjected to potentials higher than 1.2 V, an increased performance is observed for low ionomer loading CLs. It is found that by applying the high potential to the electrode a significantly increased proton conductivity is counteracting and superimposing the loss of electrochemical surface area (ECSA) due to carbon corrosion. After aging, the performance of the 15 w CL is at the same level as the 31-34 wt% ionomer content CLs at the beginning of life, even though the ECSA is reduced due to carbon corrosion or platinum dissolution. The findings indicate that for the optimization of the ionomer loading, either the changing wetting properties or the redistribution of ionomer during lifetime have to be taken into account. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.