The Effect of Catalyst Layer Coating Irregularities on Fuel Cell Performance Induced By Load Cycling


Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), Fuel cell systems (FCS), Roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing, Membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), Quality control diagnostics


The polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is capable of high power outputs at low operating temperatures, making it an attractive alternative to the petroleum-based internal combustion engine (ICE) common in vehicular applications [1]. PEMFC commercialization is contingent on future cost reductions and durability improvements. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), fuel cell systems (FCS) will have to surpass annual production levels of 500,000 units at $40/kW in order to compete with current ICEs [2-3]. Roll-to-roll (R2R) methods can achieve high yields at decreased per-area costs, enabling FCS manufacturing and cost targets to be met. Unfortunately coating irregularities that harm the performance and/or durability of PEMFC membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) can occur during R2R fabrication processing [4-5]. This work studies the effect of a subset of such irregularities on performance when operating the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC). If the MEA experiences statistically significant lower performance as a result of a coating irregularity, then the irregularity should be classified as a defect. Classification of irregularities as defects will ultimately assist the industry by developing threshold detection limits for in-line quality control diagnostics.

Original Publication Citation

A Phillips, J Mackay, JM Porter, M Ulsh, G Bender, The Effect of Catalyst Layer Coating Irregularities on Fuel Cell Performance Induced By Load Cycling, 232nd ECS MEETING, Oct. 1-5, (2017), National Harbor, MD.

Document Type


Publication Date



The Electrochemical Society




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor