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Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Vol.159, No.6, K165-K176, 2012
Initial Performance and Durability of Ultra-Low Loaded NSTF Electrodes for PEM Electrolyzers
Water based electrolyzers offer a promising approach for generating hydrogen gas for renewable energy storage. 3M's nanostructured thin film (NSTF) catalyst technology platform has been shown to significantly reduce many of the performance, cost and durability barriers standing in the way of H-2/air PEM fuel cells for vehicles. In this paper we describe results from the first evaluations of low loaded NSTF catalysts in H-2/O-2 electrolyzers at Proton OnSite and Giner, Inc. Over two dozen membrane electrode assemblies comprising nine different NSTF catalyst types were tested in 11 short stack durability tests at Proton OnSite and 14 performance tests in 50 cm(2) single cells at Giner Electrochemical Systems. NSTF catalyst alloys of Pt68Co29Mn3, Pt50Ir50 and Pt50Ir25Ru25, with Pt loadings in the range of 0.1 to 0.2 mg/cm(2), were investigated for beginning-of-life performance and durability up to 4000 hours as both electrolyzer cathodes and anodes. Catalyst composition, deposition and process conditions were found to be important for meeting the performance of standard PGM blacks on electrolyzer anodes while using only 10% as much PGM catalyst. Analyses of MEA's after the durability tests by multiple techniques document changes in catalyst alloy composition, loading, crystallite structure and support stability. (C) 2012 The Electrochemical Society. [DOI:10.1149/2.065206jes] All rights reserved.