International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol.45, No.1, 996-1007, 2020
Study of failure mechanisms of the reversal tolerant fuel cell anode via novel in-situ measurements
Cell voltage reversal resulting from hydrogen starvation at anode is one of the factors that exacerbate the overall degradation of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs). An effective material-based mitigation strategy against cell reversal is to add oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts into the anode to make reversal-tolerant-anodes (RTAs). However, RTAs still suffer from an eventual sudden death, and the failure mechanisms of this sudden death have not been well studied thus far. Here we show a novel in-situ measurement technique with a distinctive partition membrane electrode assembly (MEA) to research the failure mechanism of RTAs. It is observed for the first time that the failure of RTAs is mainly attributed to the destruction of electron conducting paths caused by carbon corrosion from catalyst layers (CLs), gas diffusion layers (GDLs) and bipolar plates (BPs), rather than deactivation of the OER catalyst. As a verification, the application of additional OER catalysts on the GDL is found to effectively prolong the reversal tolerant time. These results add significant new insights into the failure mechanism of the RTA MEA and will be of practical importance in directing to design advanced MEAs and BPs that can withstand cell voltage reversal. (C) 2019 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.