Neutron Imaging of Fuel Cells

Water management in fuel cells

Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) produce ectrical energy using hydrogen as a fuel.
They emit only water and have a high efficiency compared to combustion engines

Water is both a friend and a foe:

Multi-cell setup

Simultaneous imaging of 6 cells (1cm² each)
  • Excellent reproducibility
  • Optimal use of beam time
Multi-cell setup mounted in the ICON beamline.

P.Oberholzer et al., Electrochem. Commun. 20, 67 (2012)

Anisotopic imaging

Increased resolution only in one direction. Optimal tradeoff between spatial and temporal resolution.
Higher resolution achieveable (tilting).

Detector tilting magnifies the projected image in one direction.

Imaging configurations

Through plane imaging: the water distribution over the cell area is imaged.

In plane imaging: the water distribution between the different layers is imaged.


The ICON and NEUTRA beamlines cover a wide range of applications:

from small cells...

...image missing

to larger cells...

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to stacks

Imaging setup

Field of view: from 3x3 cm up to 35x38 cm
Spatial resolution: down to 10µm
Exposure time: typically 5-60s, shorter times possible

Standard test infrastructure

Gas flows 0.05-30NL/min
Humidification Bubbler and injection humidifiers
Voltage measurement up to 160 Channels
Maximal current 360A
Temperature controller up to 32 Channels
EIS & HFR measurement 1 - 10000 Hz

Possibilities of access

  • Scientific applications:
  • Industrial applications: Possibility of proprietary measurements
  • For users within the EU: free of charge access via

contact us for more details:


Paul Scherrer Institut
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