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Effect of Catalyst and Catalyst Layer Composition on Catalyst Support Durability...

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Journal of the Electrochemical Society
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Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are efficient, zero-emission engines for the automotive sector. However, cost and durability are major barriers for the commercialization of PEMFCs. Degradation of the carbon support in the cathode catalyst layer due to high potential excursions caused by unmitigated events like H2 starvation, or start-up/shutdown are still a major durability issue in PEMFCs. Catalyst support durability was studied by accelerated stress tests (ASTs) that included repeated potential cycling from 1.0 to 1.5 V. The effect of catalyst layer composition on carbon corrosion was studied using membrane electrode assemblies with different catalysts (Pt, PtCo), catalyst composition (catalyst wt.%, supports), ionomer composition (loading, and equivalent weights). The corrosion of the carbon support is similar between Pt and PtCo catalysts. However, the performance degradation rate is higher for the alloy catalysts due to differences in catalyst particle size and the transition metal's leaching accelerating the performance degradation. The carbon loss is lower for catalysts with lower initial carbon loading (or higher catalyst wt.%), which is better for durability. However, the cumulative loss of carbon is identical for electrodes with the same catalyst support irrespective of catalyst and ionomer composition in the catalyst layer.