Impact of Platinum Primary Particle Loading on Fuel Cell Performance: Insights from Catalyst/Ionomer Ink Interactions

Sarah Berlinger, Anamika Chowdhury, Tim Van Cleve, Aaron He, Nicholas Dagan, Kenneth Neyerlin, Bryan McCloskey, Clayton Radke, Adam Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus Citations


A variety of electrochemical energy conversion technologies, including fuel cells, rely on solution-processing techniques (via inks) to form their catalyst layers (CLs). The CLs are heterogeneous structures, often with uneven ion-conducting polymer (ionomer) coverage and underutilized catalysts. Various platinum-supported-on-carbon colloidal catalyst particles are used, but little is known about how or why changing the primary particle loading (PPL, or the weight fraction of platinum of the carbon-platinum catalyst particles) impacts performance. By investigating the CL gas-transport resistance and zeta (ζ)-potentials of the corresponding inks as a function of PPL, a direct correlation between the CL high current density performance and ink ζ-potential is observed. This correlation stems from likely changes in ionomer distributions and catalyst-particle agglomeration as a function of PPL, as revealed by pH, ζ-potential, and impedance measurements. These findings are critical to unraveling the ionomer distribution heterogeneity in ink-based CLs and enabling enhanced Pt utilization and improved device performance for fuel cells and related electrochemical devices.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)36731-36740
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number32
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-83782


  • colloidal interactions
  • electrode fabrication
  • inks
  • Nafion
  • platinum
  • polymer electrolyte fuel cell


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