Durability of PEM Fuel Cell Membranes

  • Xinyu Huang
  • Ken Reifsnider
Part of the Modern Aspects of Electrochemistry book series (MAOE)


Durability is still a critical limiting factor for the commercialization of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, a leading energy conversion technology for powering future hydrogen fueled automobiles, backup power systems (e.g., for base transceiver station of cellular networks), portable electronic devices, etc. Ionic conducting polymer (ionomer) electrolyte membranes are the critical enabling materials for the PEM fuel cells. They are also widely used as the central functional elements in hydrogen generation (e.g., electrolyzers), membrane cell for chlor-alkali production, etc. A perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) polymer with the trade name Nafion® developed by DuPont™ is the most widely used PEM in chlor-alkali cells and PEM fuel cells. Similar PFSA membranes have been developed by Dow Chemical, Asahi Glass, and lately Solvay Solexis. Frequently, such membranes serve the dual function of reactant separation and selective ionic conduction between two otherwise separate compartments. For some applications, the compromise of the “separation” function via the degradation and mechanical failure of the electrolyte membrane can be the life-limiting factor; this is particularly the case for PEM in hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells.


Fuel Cell Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Bipolar Plate Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Membrane Degradation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



In the past 7 years or so, our work on the membrane degradation has been sponsored by National Science Foundation (CMS-0408807, CBET-0829082), UTC Power and UTRC, and Connecticut Innovation’s Yankee Ingenuity Program. A number of current and former students have contributed to various extents in carrying out the experimental and analytical work. The authors wish to thank Matthew Feshler, Yue Zou, Roham Solasi, Hongying Zhao, Xiaofeng Wang, Wonseok Yoon, and William Rigdon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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