Jump to main content
Jump to site search


Comprehensive investigation of novel pore-graded gas diffusion layers for high-performance and cost-effective proton exchange membrane electrolyzers

Author affiliations

Abstract

Hydrogen produced by water electrolysis is a promising storage medium for renewable energy. Reducing the capital cost of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers without losing efficiency is one of its most pressing challenges. Gas diffusion layers (GDL), such as felts, foams, meshes and sintered plates, are key stack components, but these are either inefficient or expensive. This study presents a new type of GDL produced via vacuum plasma spraying (VPS), which offers a large potential for cost reduction. With this technology, it is possible to introduce a gradient in the pore-size distribution along the thickness of the GDL by varying the plasma parameters and titanium powder particle sizes. This feature was confirmed by cross-section scanning electron microscopy (SEM). X-ray computed tomography (CT) and mercury intrusion porosimetry allowed determining the porosity, pore radii distribution, and pore entry distribution. Pore radii of ca. 10 μm could be achieved in the layers of the GDL close to the bipolar plate, while those in contact with the electrodes were in the range of 5 μm. The thermally sprayed Ti-GDLs allowed achieving PEM electrolyzer performances comparable to those of the state-of-the-art sintered plates and far superior than those of meshes. Moreover, a numerical model showed that the reduced capillary pressure and tortuosity eliminates mass transport limitations at 2 A cm−2. The results presented herein demonstrate a promising solution to reduce the cost of one of the most expensive components of the stack.

Graphical abstract: Comprehensive investigation of novel pore-graded gas diffusion layers for high-performance and cost-effective proton exchange membrane electrolyzers

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 07 May 2017, accepted on 24 Jul 2017 and first published on 24 Jul 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7EE01240C
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2017, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
  •   Request permissions

    Comprehensive investigation of novel pore-graded gas diffusion layers for high-performance and cost-effective proton exchange membrane electrolyzers

    P. Lettenmeier, S. Kolb, N. Sata, A. Fallisch, L. Zielke, S. Thiele, A. S. Gago and K. A. Friedrich, Energy Environ. Sci., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7EE01240C

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

    Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

    • For reproduction of material from NJC:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
      [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
    • For reproduction of material from PPS:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

    Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements