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Proceedings Paper

Optomechanical characterization of proton-exchange membrane fuel cells
Author(s): Nikhil H. Jalani; Shivananda P. Mizar; Pyoungho Choi; Cosme Furlong; Ravindra Datta
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Paper Abstract

Nafion is widely used as the polymer electrolyte in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The properties that make the Nafion membrane indispensable are the combination of good water uptake, ion-exchange capacity, proton conductivity, gas permeability, and excellent electrochemical stability. The amount of water sorbed in the Nafion membrane is critical as the proton conductivity depends directly on the water content of the membrane which determines the fuel cell performance. The factors which affect the extent of the solvent uptake by Nafion are temperature, ion-exchange capacity, pretreatment of membrane, and the physical state of absorbing water, whether it is in liquid or vapor phase. The water sorption in the membrane is explained in terms of thermodynamic equilibrium of water in the vapor and absorption phases. As the membrane imbibes more water, the membrane matrix expands and exerts a pressure on the pore liquid which affects its chemical potential and limits extent of swelling. The extent of matrix expansion of the membranes depends on the elastic modulus, E, of the membrane, which directly affects the sorption. Hence, it is important to understand the variation of E for Nafion membrane with relative humidity (RH) and temperature. Optoelectronic holography (OEH) techniques are applied to perform quantitative, noninvasive, full field of view investigations to determine temperature and water activity dependence of E. The results obtained confirm that with the increase in temperature, E decreases and the membranes imbibes more water. Such results will allow optimization and realization of fuel cells with improved efficiency and performance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 August 2004
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 5532, Interferometry XII: Applications, (2 August 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.562893
Show Author Affiliations
Nikhil H. Jalani, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Shivananda P. Mizar, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Pyoungho Choi, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Cosme Furlong, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Ravindra Datta, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5532:
Interferometry XII: Applications
Wolfgang Osten; Erik Novak, Editor(s)

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