On Gas Contaminants, and Bipolar Plates in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells
Sammanfattning: The proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy through two electrocatalytic reactions. The most common catalyst used is platinum on carbon (Pt/C), which has shown the best performance in the fuel cell until now. However, the drawback of this catalyst is that it does not tolerate impurities, and both hydrogen and oxygen may carry small amounts of impurities depending on the production sources. The purpose of this thesis is to understand the effect of two impurities that are less investigated, i.e., ammonia, which may accompany the hydrogen rich reformates from renewable sources, and nitrogen dioxide, which may come from air pollution. The mechanism of contamination and an adequate recovery method for the respective contaminant are studied. Additionally, electroplated bipolar plates with Ni-Mo and Ni-Mo-P coatings were tested as alternatives to stainless steel and carbon materials.The results show that ammonia not only provokes changes in the polymer membrane but also in the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) and catalyst ionomer in both electrodes. The extent of performance recovery after the contamination depends on the concentration used and the exposure time. In contrast, nitrogen dioxide affects the catalyst in the electrode directly; the contamination is related to side reactions that are produced on the catalyst’s surface. However, NO2 is not attached strongly to the catalyst and it is possible to restore the performance by using clean air. The time the recovery process takes depends on the potential applied and the air flow.Finally, the evaluation of electroplated Ni-Mo and Ni-Mo-P on stainless steel by ex situ and in situ studies shows that these coatings reduce the internal contact resistance (ICR) and the corrosion rate of the stainless steel considerably. However, the in situ experiments show that phosphorus addition to the coating does not improve the fuel cell performance; thus, the Ni-Mo alloy is found to be a promising choice for electroplating stainless steel bipolar plates.
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