Techniques for Fuel Cell Characterisation

Module Title - Techniques for Fuel Cell Characterisation 
Number of credits – 10

Module description


The module aims to develop an understanding of the measurements techniques used in development and study of fuel cells. The course is sub-divided into two sections:

a. Electrochemical Techniques
b. Material Characterisation Techniques

The first section introduces the electrochemical techniques to understand catalyst performance, durability and electrochemically active surface (ECSA) area. These will include tafel plot, cyclic voltammetry, chronoamperometry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Working principle and types of fuel cells; concept of power, relation between current and voltage and I-V curve; concepts like reversible and irreversible reaction and two and three electrode systems, Randles-Sevcik equation, overpotential and other electrochemistry concepts relevant to fuel cells are also included. The understanding of the techniques will be aided by lab experience

Material characterisation discusses the principles and importance of techniques available (XRD, TGS, SEM, TEM, IR, NMR) to study composition and surface characteristics of various components (catalysts, supports, MEA, GDL) of fuel cells.

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Inspect and appraise the performance of fuel cells in terms of stability, power output, longevity.
  • Plan and design experimental procedures to critically evaluate the operation of fuel cells, catalyst utilisation, electrochemically active catalyst surface area and poisoning.
  • Assess and evaluate the different electrochemical concepts including cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, chronoamperometry to study fuel cells components.
  • Compare, differentiate and analyse different material characterisation techniques.
  • Evaluate different material properties and requirements (morphology, conductivity, water retention etc) for electrocatalysts, catalyst supports, conducting membranes and other fuel cell components by combining electrochemical and material characterisation.