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IMprove PEMFC with Advanced water management and gas diffusion Layers for Automotive application

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Improving next-generation fuel cells

Researchers are improving the performance of one component of proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) technology to move this technology towards commercialisation.

Industrial Technologies

PEMFC technology is a new type of fuel cell that promises high energy efficiency and decreased emissions for transport applications. To make PEMFC technology commercially viable, researchers need to improve the efficiency of the gas diffusion layer (GDL), a key component of PEMFCs. To this end, the EU has funded the project IMPALA (Improve PEMFC with advanced water management and gas diffusion layers for automotive application). It aims to increase GDL efficiency to a new benchmark of 1 watt per square centimetre. Researchers set about this task by testing two different types of GDL: homogenous and non-uniform. The project also used modelling and experiments to understand how water in the PEMFC influences the efficiency of the GDL. IMPALA has found that various additives to the microporous layer of the homogenous GDL can greatly influence its efficiency. Researchers are currently working on the non-uniform GDL, but preliminary tests show no improvement in performance. The project has spent some time analysing the structure and physical properties of the GDL in detail using advanced imaging tools like X-ray tomography. Finally, work on modelling GDL and microporous layer performance has begun. When complete, IMPALA will produce an improved GDL design for a more efficient PEMFC. Further, the project will yield a more precise understanding of how the GDL functions at a microscopic level.


Proton exchange membrane fuel cell, gas diffusion layer, water management, automotive application, microporous

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