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Fuel Cell Characterization

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Working with the fuel cell community, Cerium Labs has gained an extensive knowledge base in characterizing fuel cell structures. We offer a variety of analytical techniques used by R&D, pilot and manufacturing operations to maximize performance and gain insight into degradation mechanisms. Applications of these techniques include:

Membrane Microstructure
The flow of hydrogen ions is affected by membrane microstructure. Changes in membrane chemistry from fluorocarbon to hydrocarbon may alter membrane configuration resulting in poor conduction. Changes in membrane chemistry can be characterized by XPS, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy.
Membrane Morphology
Microtome or FIB cross-sections of membrane samples may be imaged by SEM or TEM to observe localized areas damaged by chemical reaction or mechanical stress. These images can provide valuable information about degradation of the stacked layers comprising the fuel cell membrane.

Catalyst Composition
Activity of the platinum/carbon catalyst directly affects hydrogen ionization efficiency and thus, fuel cell performance. Platinum and carbon crystalline structure may be determined by XRD. Oxidation or other chemical changes can be monitored using XRD, XPS and SAD methods.

Waste Water Analysis
Water is a by-product of fuel cell operation and the contaminants present in this water offer insight into membrane stability. Water analysis by IC, ICP-MS and GC-MS has shown the presence of fluorides, sulfates, various trace metals and volatile organic species, all of which may result from membrane degradation. These contaminants provide clues to understanding cell operation and the reaction mechanisms which lead to cell failure.

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