Under high current density operation, the efficiency of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) can dramatically decrease. This is due to water accumulation at the cathode side, preventing oxygen diffusion to the electrocatalyst. As such, effective water management is of vital importance by use of a suitable gas diffusion layer (GDL) and/or microporous layer (MPL). MPLs generally consist of carbon black as the porous electron conducting phase, and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) as a hydrophobic binder. Here, we instead use superhydrophobic fluorinated carbon powder in the MPL as a novel material to decrease the required PTFE content. It is confirmed that the water contact angle of the MPL can be increased from 131° to 151° by using fluorinated carbon. Moreover, the fluorinated carbon MPL shows lower oxygen transport resistance at high humidity. Furthermore, in single fuel cell tests at various temperatures and relative humidity values, the I–V performance is significantly and consistently better than for the conventional MPL. These results confirm that fluorinated carbon is a promising new material for water management in the MPLs of PEFCs.
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