Mechanism of Water Content on the Electrochemical Surface Area of the Catalyst Layer in the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

LH Fan and KC Wu and C Tongsh and MQ Zhu and X Xie and K Jiao, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS, 10, 6409-6413 (2019).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.9b02549

Combined molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and experiment are adopted to gain the mechanism of water content on the electrochemical surface area (ECSA) of the catalyst layer in a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. The morphology of water domains in the catalyst layer has a strong impact on the ECSA via MD simulation. The morphology of the water domains is isolated water clusters at low water content, resulting in the poor ECSA due to the lack of proton transport paths. The transport paths of protons tend to be quickly established with increasing water content during the transition process of the morphology of water domains from isolated water clusters to the water channel network, thereby leading to the rapid increase of the ECSA. However, the slight increase of the ECSA at high water content mainly results from the improved contact area between water domains and Pt particle instead of the formation of new transport paths. In addition, the stronger binding of water molecules and the Pt particle at low temperature results in a higher ECSA.

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