International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol.42, No.15, 10448-10454, 2017
Carbon xerogel as gas diffusion layer in PEM fuel cells
We investigate a novel gas diffusion layer/catalyst/membrane assembly based on low-cost carbon xerogels replacing the expensive plasma-pyrolyzed carbon black microporous layer (MPL). The tri-layer structure (carbon paper/carbon xerogel/carbon black) of the gas diffusion layer (GDL) was tailored to enhance the bi-phase (gas liquid) flow dynamics. GDL synthesis was performed by immersing carbon paper in a resorcinol-formaldehyde-graphene oxide precursor solution, followed by thermal treatment. The end product is a carbon xerogel structure with incorporated graphene layers that counter the additional overpotential losses due to conductivity and mass-transfer limitations. MPL structure and porosity were controlled by performing xerogel crosslinking in a centrifugal field at different G-Forces, resulting in a highly conductive material with structural properties tailored to the application of interest. (C) 2017 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.