PerkinElmer
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Application Note

Quality Control of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells by Thermogravimetric Analysis

Introduction

Fuel cells offer cleaner and more-efficient energy than the internal-combustion engine. Many types of fuel cells are now available based on the electrolyte used, including polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC), solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) and alkaline fuel cells (AFC). Each has its own electrolyte, cathode and anode as well as fuel type, typically operates in different temperature ranges and caters to different applications - among these, the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell is the most widely used.

During the manufacturing of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, one of the most important parts is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). One method to make an MEA is to print the catalyst containing ink over the gas diffusion layers - for example, carbon cloth. This application note describes how thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) can be used to check the ink formulation for quality control purposes and also to study the heat-treatment process of carbon cloth.