Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Electrons, Ions, Heat, and Fluids: The Complex Interplay of Properties in Porous Electrodes and the Porous Transport Layer

Prof. Brant A. Peppley
Director of the Queen's - RMC Fuel Cell Research Centre

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
3:30 PM @ Stirling A


The performance of all fuel cells relies on a balance of properties in porous materials make up the interface between the fluid fuel and ion-conducting electrolyte. The term gas diffusion layer that is commonly used for the carbon paper between the flow-field plates and the membrane electrode assembly in PEM fuel cells completely misses the key aspects of this critical porous material. The function of the micro-porous layer that is often added to one-side of the porous transport layer is poorly understood. Furthermore the essential elements required to fabricate a high-performance porous electrode structure that will maximize the triple-phase boundary are vaguely understood at best. One can follow the published recipes for making a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and still end up with a hopelessly bad fuel cell. The critical aspects of fabricating an effective electrode structure of the membrane electrode assembly in a low-temperature PEM fuel cell have exactly analogs for the fabrication of high temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) electrodes. The point is that the problem is much more complex than simply finding the right combination of exotic elements or noble metals in order to achieve cost reduction and reliability.

This presentation will review the work that has been done at the Queen's-RMC Fuel Cell Research Centre on modelling, testing, characterizing and improving the porous materials used in low temperature fuel cells. An overview of recent progress in the commercialization will also be given.

Refreshments will be served 15 mins before the talk.