Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry
A simple and convenient small-scale fuel-cell test platform was created from a commercial compression fitting and graphite rod current collectors and used to conduct diagnostic tests on disk-shaped membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) fabricated from Nafion membranes and Nafion-impregnated platinum-on-carbon-cloth anodes and cathodes. A key advantage of this test platform is that it requires very little material, perhaps just a few milligrams, to conduct a fuel-cell test on a supported catalyst. Electrochemically-active surface area (ECSA) values for supported platinum on carbon-cloth electrodes were obtained by in-situ(in the fuel cell) and ex-situ (in liquid electrolyte) cyclic voltammetry on similarly-prepared electrodes, and values obtained by these methods were compared with each other to estimate the fraction of platinum catalyst contacted by the Nafion ionomer in the fuel-cell cathode. Polarization curves were acquired under controlled-potential conditions using slow-scan cyclic and sampled-current voltammetry and potential-step amperometry methods with conventional electroanalytical instrumentation. Tests performed using this platform are complementary to rotating disk electrode (RDE) voltammetry tests which also allow for catalyst testing on small amounts of material, albeit in the presence of liquid electrolyte, and are commonly used for initial screening of new fuel-cell catalysts. They are also complementary to conventional fuel-cell testing that is commonly performed on MEAs having active areas more than 100 times larger than that in the present cells.
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