May 22 – 25, 2023
Europe/London timezone

Insights into Water Cluster Instabilities in Gas Diffusion Layers of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

May 25, 2023, 2:45 PM
Oral Presentation (MS16) Fluid Interactions with Thin Porous Media MS16


Dr Jens Eller (Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland)


4D X-ray tomographic microscopy (XTM) offers the possibility to obtain detailed insights into the water removal process through gas diffusion layers (GDL) of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) [1-4]. Recent work on droplet formation and detachment cycle [5, 6] has provided insights into the inter-action between a percolating water cluster feeding a droplet on the GDL surface and allowed the cal-culation of the capillary pressure in the water cluster via surface curvature analysis. The work of Mu-larzcyk et al. [6] was limited to the analysis of a single percolating water cluster using a small active area of 0.005 mm2. Here we extend the previous study by using a catalyst coated membrane with 8 small active areas (0.0625 mm2) thereby, allowing the analysis of the development of multiple perco-lating water clusters, in addition to increasing statistics [7].

An operando XTM cell was imaged at the TOMCAT beamline of the Swiss Light Source with a scan rate of 1 Hz for 180 s after a current jump from OCV to 1 A/cm2 at 30°C cell temperature and 100 % relative humidity of anode and cathode feed gases. In total 11 water breakthrough points were identi-fied that percolated from the 8 isolated active areas through a Toray TGP-H-060 GDL (10 %wt PTFE). This presentation will discuss the percolation process of individual water clusters with respect to their through-plane and in-plane growth to identify correlations between the water volume, the local pore structure and the stability of the water cluster – droplet network (see Figure 1).


[1] J. Eller et al., ECS Transactions, 2015, 69(17), pp. 523–531
[2] Y. Nagai et al., Journal of Power Sources, 2019, 435, 226809
[3] M. Sabharwal et al., Journal of Power Sources, 2021, 489, 229447
[4] H. Xu et al., Journal of Power Sources, 2021, 490, 229492
[5] A. Mularczyk et al., Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 2020, 167(8), 084506
[6] A. Mularczyk et al., ACS Applied Material Interfaces, 2021, 13, 34003-34011
[7] T. Dörenkamp et al., ECS Transactions, 2021, 104, 75

Participation In-Person
Country Switzerland
Energy Transition Focused Abstracts This abstract is related to Energy Transition
MDPI Energies Student Poster Award No, do not submit my presenation for the student posters award.
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Primary author

Mr Tim Dörenkamp (Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland)


Dr Federica Marone (Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland) Dr Mayank Sabharwal (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA) Dr Jens Eller (Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland)

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