Team in Japan Develops Durable, High-temperature PEM Fuel Cell
Researchers in Japan have developed a novel polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEFC) that shows high durability (>400,000 cycles) together with high power density (252 mW/cm2) at high temperatures of 120°C under a non-humidified condition.
In a paper published in Scientific Reports, the open access journal of the Nature Publishing Group, they suggest that the study “opens the door” for the next-generation high temperature and non-humidified PEFC for use in the “real world”.
Higher-temperature PEM fuel cells are of interest due to a number of performance and cost advantages, including higher power efficiency; elimination of the cooling device and water management system; reduction of CO poisoning of the platinum (Pt) and/or enabling the use of a non-precious metal catalyst. Volkswagen, as an example, in 2006 reported developing a PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell that operates at temperatures of about 120 °C.
The researchers in Japan used a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) with Pt on poly(vinylphosphonic acid)-doped polybenzimidazole wrapped on carbon nanotube and poly(vinylphosphonic acid)-doped polybenzimidazole for the electrocatalyst and electrolyte membrane, respectively.
Among their findings was that the power density of the MEA increased when increasing the measurement temperature up to 120°C—a result in good agreement with the increase of the proton conductivity at higher temperatures. As a result, they said, they expect a higher power density above 120°C. This study is underway now by using a new apparatus capable of 120–200 °C measurements.