Catalyst Layer Resistance and Utilization in PEM Electrolysis: Article No. 084512

Elliot Padgett, Guido Bender, Andrew Haug, Krzysztof Lewinski, Fuxia Sun, Haoran Yu, David Cullen, Andrew Steinbach, Shaun Alia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus Citations


Improving utilization, performance, and stability of low iridium (Ir)-loaded anodes is a key goal to enable widespread adoption of polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE) for clean hydrogen production. A potential limitation is high ionic or electronic resistance of the anode catalyst layer, which leads to poor catalyst utilization, increased voltage losses, and high local overpotentials that can accelerate degradation. While catalyst layer resistance is relatively well-understood in fuel cells and other porous electrode systems, characterization of these effects is not as well established in PEMWE research. Here we present in-situ methods for measuring catalyst layer resistance in electrolysis cells using a non-faradaic H2/H2O condition as well as methods for calculating the associated voltage losses. These methods are applied to anode catalyst layers based on IrO2 nanoparticles as well as dispersed nano-structured thin film (NSTF) Ir catalysts. Trends with anode catalyst loading and interactions between the porous transport layer and catalyst layer are investigated for IrO2 anodes. Post-mortem microscopic analysis of durability-tested anodes is also presented, showing uneven degradation of the catalyst layer caused by catalyst layer resistance.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-85254


  • catalyst layer resistance
  • hydrogen production
  • impedance spectroscopy
  • polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolysis


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