Application of Rapid Throughput Measurement Techniques to Quantify Catalyst Distribution in Electrolysis MEAs Through Measurement of MEA Thickness Variation
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AbstractWater electrolysis using proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology is a promising avenue for on-site hydrogen generation for energy and fueling needs. The design relies on the quality of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for efficient electrochemical performance. Currently, the MEA is one of the highest cost elements of the system. One aspect of the manufacturing expense is the labor intensive quality control checks that are required to assure product reliability. The development of improved thickness measurement techniques that map the entire electrode area, as opposed to point measurements, would speed the process. This project will utilize a series of analytical techniques Â¿ such as X-ray fluorescence, optical reflectance, profilometry, and machine vision Â¿ in order to correlate the currently accepted point measurements of catalyst distribution across the MEA with new area measurements of thickness. Phase I will involve the selection of the optimal measurement parameters and a demonstration of correlation with electrochemical performance. Phase II will develop a model to (1) establish predictions of electrolyzer performance based on on-line measurements and (2) estimate the reduction in cost that can be expected by implementing the improved quality measurements. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee:The technology would reduce the cost of water electrolysis for the production of hydrogen by providing an improved quality control system for reducing scrap and achieving higher manufacturing throughput. The advantages of the new system include a lack of corrosive electrolytes, small footprint, and an ability to generate hydrogen at high pressure, requiring only water and an energy source.
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