The Gas Diffusion Electrode Setup as Straightforward Testing Device for Proton Exchange Membrane Water Electrolyzer Catalysts

JACS Au. 2021 Feb 17;1(3):247-251. doi: 10.1021/jacsau.1c00015. eCollection 2021 Mar 22.

ABSTRACT

Hydrogen production from renewable resources and its reconversion into electricity are two important pillars toward a more sustainable energy use. The efficiency and viability of these technologies heavily rely on active and stable electrocatalysts. Basic research to develop superior electrocatalysts is commonly performed in conventional electrochemical setups such as a rotating disk electrode (RDE) configuration or H-type electrochemical cells. These experiments are easy to set up; however, there is a large gap to real electrochemical conversion devices such as fuel cells or electrolyzers. To close this gap, gas diffusion electrode (GDE) setups were recently presented as a straightforward technique for testing fuel cell catalysts under more realistic conditions. Here, we demonstrate for the first time a GDE setup for measuring the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) of catalysts for proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers (PEMWEs). Using a commercially available benchmark IrO2 catalyst deposited on a carbon gas diffusion layer (GDL), it is shown that key parameters such as the OER mass activity, the activation energy, and even reasonable estimates of the exchange current density can be extracted in a realistic range of catalyst loadings for PEMWEs. It is furthermore shown that the carbon-based GDL is not only suitable for activity determination but also short-term stability testing. Alternatively, the GDL can be replaced by Ti-based porous transport layers (PTLs) typically used in commercial PEMWEs. Here a simple preparation is shown involving the hot-pressing of a Nafion membrane onto a drop-cast glycerol-based ink on a Ti-PTL.

PMID:34467289 | PMC:PMC8395656 | DOI:10.1021/jacsau.1c00015

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