Technical Informatio

We introduce the fuel cell evaluation technology of FC-Cubic.A general cell configuration of a polymer electrolyte fuel cell installed in such as fuel cell vehicles is two catalyst layers in which hydrogen and oxygen react respectively, an electrolyte membrane, gas diffusion layers (GDL), and separators. This minimal configuration is a single cell.Actual fuel cell vehicles are equipped with stacked cells which a lot of the single cells stack, while we are mainly studying the performance of the catalyst and the electrolyte membrane using fuel cells in a single-cell state.To evaluate a fuel cell in a power generation test, we assemble an evaluation cell by preparing a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) consisting of the catalyst layers, the electrolyte membrane, and the GDL, which are described above. We introduce these MEA preparation technologies and fuel cell evaluation technologies for each item.

MEA preparation

Fuel cell performance of the catalyst is evaluated by actually conducting power generation tests.We incorporate the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which consists of the catalyst layers, the electrolyte membrane, and the gas diffusion layers, into the evaluation cell in power generation tests.Therefore, each process is required to produce MEA from catalyst powder.At FC-Cubic, we have a consistent system from preparation of catalyst ink to it of MEA.

Catalyst Ink Preparation

The catalyst ink is prepared by uniformly mixing and dispersing the fuel cell catalyst, ionomer and solvent.The viscosity of the ink and the cohesion of the catalyst are controlled to minimize the impact on the power generation performance.

Transfer Process

The catalyst ink is applied to the sheet with a uniform thickness using a blade-type or a spray-type coating device.n spray coating, the catalyst layer can be directly applied to the electrolyte membrane.The state of the catalyst layer after coating is observed with a microscope to check for uneven thickness, cracks and so on.

Fuel Cell Performance Analysis

hrough power generation tests using a fuel cell evaluation equipment, we can obtain not only catalyst metal specific surface area and catalyst activity, but also various information on MEA.Furthermore, by incorporating mathematical models such as the 1-D (transmission line) model, it is possible to concretely understand the causes of power generation loss.Analysis of drain water and exhaust gas during the durability tests provides information on degradation factors of the platinum catalyst, the electrolyte membrane and carbon catalyst supports.

Physical Properties and Property Evaluation

Catalyst Layer
Evaluation

Various evaluations and observations are conducted on the catalyst layer in the MEA.Structural observation by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) and nitrogen gas adsorption measurement can be used to evaluate nano-macropores in the catalyst layer.Thermogravimetry (TG) and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) can also be used to quantify the amount of catalyst supported and the catalyst metal in the catalyst layer, and various evaluation methods are used to evaluate oxygen diffusion and steam adsorption characteristics in the catalyst layer.

Catalyst and Electrolyte
Membrane Observation

Scanning transmission electron microscopy allows observation of various structures such as catalysts and electrolyte membranes.The 3D imaging function can provide three-dimensional information on hollow catalyst supports with complex pore structures.Electrolyte membranes and ionomers in various states can be observed by applying a holder for cryo- and liquid-observation.

Small Fuel Cell of FC-Cubic

We have developed a new type of evaluation cell that integrates the know-how of fuel cell evaluation in industry.The spring is designed to moderate the overload during thermal expansion by controlling the surface pressure, and the electrode area of 1cm^2 reduces the amount of catalyst and electrolyte membrane used compared to conventional evaluation cells.This evaluation cell also takes into account cell handling and measurement stability such as evaluation cell size and cross-flow design.For more information, please contact our Contact Form or fc3cell@fc-cubic.or.jp.

 

Research Tools and Know-How

In other countries, industry-academia-government collaboration in fuel cell development research is accelerated by the country or region.At the same time, we will start to provide industry’s R&D tools and know-how on fuel cells to academia to promote industry-academia-government collaboration in our country as a measure to stimulate exchanges of technology and human resources between industry and academia.FC-Cubic will serve as a bridge between industry and academia, contributing to the activation of Japan’s fuel cell industry through industry-academia-government collaboration.This information is limited to those in academia in Japan who wish to provide it.For more information, please contact our contact form or Info-fc3@fc-cubic-event.jp.For public information, please refer to “1. Research and Development Tool/Know How Sharing” in the 5th FC-Cubic Open Symposium Materials Open to the Public | FC Cubic Open Symposium (fc-cubic-event.jp).