Optimization of the structure of cathode catalyst layers (CCLs) for promoting the transfer of reactants and products in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is important for improving the cell performance. In this study, using theoretical equations, we confirmed that the shortened proton conduction path in the ionomer layer (IL) with a 3D-patterned structure, compared to that in the IL with a flat-patterned structure, can improve the cell performance. We experimentally investigated the effect of the IL with a 3D-patterned structure included in the CCLs on the cell performance. Based on the combination of the flat-or 3D-pattern of the IL and the catalyst layer (CL), the samples were categorized as Str. 1 (3D-patterned CL without IL), Str. 2 (flat-patterned IL and CL), Str. 3 (3D-patterned IL and flat-patterned CL), and Str. 4 (3D-patterned IL and CL). All of the samples had different morphologies. According to the I–V curves and impedance spectra data acquired at 80 °C and 40% relative humidity, Str. 4 showed superior cell performance relative to those of the other CCLs. These results indicate that the structure of Str. 4 enhanced the proton conductivity at a low humidity at which proton conduction is usually poor, thereby resulting in improved cell performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Energy (miscellaneous)
- Control and Optimization
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering