Impacts of Catalyst Nanolayers on Water Permeation and Swelling of Polymer Electrolyte Membranes

Gaoqiang Yang, Shule Yu, Jingke Mo, Yifan Li, Zhenye Kang, Guido Bender, Bryan S. Pivovar, Johney B. Green, David A. Cullen, Feng Yuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Polymer electrolyte membranes with catalyst layers are the most crucial components of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer cells and fuel cells. Their water permeation and swelling behavior significantly impact the proton transport and performance in energy conversion devices. In this study, water permeations and swelling properties of Nafion membranes with different platinum (Pt) nanolayers under different conditions are investigated. Visualization results demonstrate the entire swelling process of Pt-coated Nafion membranes and reveal water transport in Nafion membranes and breakage of the Pt nanolayer. The water permeation of Nafion membranes with a 17 nm Pt nanolayer coating reduces from 40 to less than 20 μmol min−1 cm−2 at 80 °C and 70 kPa differential pressure. The water permeation of Nafion membranes with a 36 nm Pt coating is slightly lower than one with a 17 nm Pt coating due to higher transport resistance through the thicker Pt nanolayer and smaller cracks on the Pt nanolayer. Nevertheless, the water permeation of Nafion membranes with Pt nanolayers is still in a good range for proton transport applications, demonstrating the feasibility of Pt or other metal coating on Nafion membranes as catalysts or substrates in PEM-based energy devices.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 227582
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-75719


  • Platinum coating
  • Polymer electrolyte membrane
  • Swelling behavior
  • Water electrolyzer
  • Water permeation


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