National Physical Laboratory researchers create new electrode to monitor PEM fuel cells

National Physical Laboratory researchers create new electrode to monitor PEM fuel cells

March 22, 2012 0 By Erin Kilgore

Researchers from the National Physical Laboratory…

In the U.K., have developed a new electrode that can be placed in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells – those commonly used in the auto industry – to monitor their performance. PEM fuel cells were chosen by the auto industry for their performance, being roughly on par with traditional petroleum engines. These types of fuel cells are more prone to corrosion than other fuel cells. Concerns regarding this corrosion could make hydrogen powered cars unpopular with consumers as replacing a fuel cell would be a costly endeavor.

The new electrode from the National Physical Laboratory can be placed in any working PEM fuel cell.

The electrode will monitor the changes within the fuel cell and track corrosion or any losses in performance. This data will then be used to find solutions to any problems that PEM fuel cells may have. Researchers have already been using this electrode and have been able to make some improvements to PEM fuel cells, increasing their durability and corrosion resistance.

The data compiled by these electrodes will not be exclusive to researchers at the National Physical Laboratory.

Fuel cell manufacturers and other scientists associated with alternative energy will be able to use this data as they see fit. The Laboratory hopes that the new measurement technology will help fuel cells reach commercialization, though this will largely depend on whether automakers are willing to make changes to their fuel cells before their new vehicles are launched.