The 3D structure of the catalyst layer (CL) in the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) is modeled with a Pt/carbon (Pt/C) ratio of 0.4–2.3 and ionomer/carbon (i/C) ratio of 0.5–1.5, and the structural properties are evaluated by numerical simulation. The models are constructed by mimicking the actual shapes of Pt particles and carbon aggregates, as well as the ionomer adhesion in real CLs. CLs with different compositions are characterized by structural properties such as Pt inter-particle distance, ionomer coating thickness, pore size distribution, tortuosity, and ionomer coverage on Pt. The results for Pt/C = 1.0, i/C = 1.0 with Pt loading of 0.3 mg cm−2 and 50% porosity are validated against measured data for CLs with the same composition. With increasing i/C ratio, the smaller pores disappear and the number of isolated pores increases; while the ionomer connection and its coverage on Pt are significantly enhanced at i/C ∼1.0. With increasing Pt/C ratio, the Pt inter-particle distance decreases as the particles connect with each other. The tortuosity of the pores and the ionomer exhibits a trade-off relation depending on the ionomer volume. Further CL design concepts to optimize both O2 diffusion and H+ conduction are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering