Case 10730

Layer-by-layer fabrication of proton exchange membranes for reducing thickness of fuel cell stacks

Keywords:

Carbon electrode, membrane electrode assembly, proton exchange membrane, gas diffusion layer, layer-by- layer technology, electronic conductivity, polyelectrolyte, fuel cell

Applications:

Fuel Cells

Problem:

Fabrication of fuel cell stacks

Technology:

A novel proton exchange membrane (PEM) fabricated by depositing polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer (LBL) films on a porous support. A carbon-based gas diffusion layer (GDL) acts as a current collector and at the same time allows the diffusion of gases. To check for its electronic conductivity, electrodes (i.e. a carbon LBL film loaded with platinum catalyst) were deposited on top of the GDL, which has been deposited on gold electrodes. The capability of the LBL technique to form stratified layers can be extended to fabricate an assembly of fuel cells, thus making a fuel cell stack extremely thin compared to conventional technology. Structural properties of LBL carbon electrodes are also different from conventional carbon electrodes due to polyelectrolytes embedded inside the LBL carbon electrode, with its performance dependent on the chemical properties of these polyelectrolytes.

Advantages:
  • Stable electronic conductivity
  • No mechanical or thermal processing required during fabrication

Inventors:
  • Professor Paula Hammond(Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT)
  • Tarek Rafic Farhat (Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT)

Intellectual Property:

U.S. Patent Number 8,075,951, issued on December 13, 2011

Publications:

Last revised:November 8, 2010

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