Importance of Balancing Membrane and Electrode Water in Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

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Anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) offer several potential advantages over proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), most notably to overcome the cost barrier that has slowed the growth and large scale implementation of fuel cells for transportation. However, limitations in performance have held back AEMFCs, specifically in the areas of stability, carbonation, and maximum achievable current and power densities. In order for AEMFCs to contend with PEMFCs for market viability, it is necessary to realize a competitive cell performance. This work demonstrates a new benchmark for a H2/O2 AEMFC with a peak power density of 1.4 W cm−2 at 60 °C. This was accomplished by taking a more precise look at balancing necessary membrane hydration while preventing electrode flooding, which somewhat surprisingly can occur both at the anode and the cathode. Specifically, radiation-grafted ETFE-based anion exchange membranes and anion exchange ionomerpowder, functionalized with benchmark benzyltrimethylammonium groups, were utilized to examine the effects of the following parameters on AEMFC performance: feed gas flow rate, the use of hydrophobic vs. hydrophilic gas diffusion layers, and gas feed dew points.