High throughput fuel cell performance analysis (multi-cell test rig)

Research on fuel cell materials (e.g. membranes, catalysts, gas diffusion layers) cannot rely only on ex situ characterization: numerous examples can be found of materials showing highly promising characteristics (e.g. catalysts showing high activity in laboratory RDE measurements) but which are not suitable for fuel cell operation due to poor mass transport and water management characteristics. In situ performance testing is therefore required, but is expensive in time and resources. Our high throughput setup allows simultaneous operation of up to 6 individual small scale differential fuel cells (1 cm2 active area).

Multi-cell test rig used for high throughput performance analysis of fuel cells
  • Common gas mixing / humidification stage -> excellent cell-to-cell repeatability regarding the gas composition and dew point.
  • Separate flow control for each individual cell -> precise flow control regardless of water accumulation of flow field differences
  • Advanced thermal control system -> full range of humidification available without condensation in the external housing
  • Can be combined with other advanced measurements:  standard and high resolution anisotropic neutron imaging, as well as with our pulsed gas analysis method.

Multicell usage example
Multicell usage example

Example: Operando measurement of the water distribution in cells having GDLs with patterned wettability. The 3 cells were simultaneously measured with neutron imaging and the multi-cell test rig. The specific accumulation of water in the hydrophilic regions is clearly visible for 500 µm lines. A. Forner-Cuenca et al., J. Electrochem. Soc. 163, F1389 (2016) 

Dr. Pierre Boillat
Electrochemistry Laboratory (LEC) and
Neutron Imaging and Activation Group (NIAG)
5232 Villigen PSI

Telephone: +41 56 310 2743
Fax +41 56 310 4415
Email: pierre.boillat@psi.ch

  • Oberholzer P, Boillat P, Siegrist R, Kästner A, Lehmann EH, Scherer GG, et al.
    Simultaneous neutron imaging of six operating PEFCs: experimental set-up and study of the MPL effect
    Electrochemistry Communications. 2012; 20(1): 67-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.elecom.2012.03.038
  • Forner-Cuenca A, Biesdorf J, Manzi-Orezzoli V, Gubler L, Schmidt TJ, Boillat P
    Advanced water management in PEFCs: diffusion layers with patterned wettability. III. operando characterization with neutron imaging
    In: Savinell RF, ed. Vol. 163. Journal of the electrochemical society. sine loco: ECS; 2016:F1389-F1398. https://doi.org/10.1149/2.0891613jes