Improvement in Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Performance by Treating the Anode at High Anodic Potential

Prabhuram Joghee, Svitlana Pylypenko, Kevin Wood, April Corpuz, Guido Bender, Huyen N. Dinh, Ryan O'Hayre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


This work investigates the effect of a high anodic potential treatment protocol on the performance of a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). DMFC membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with PtRu/C (Hi-spec 5000) anode catalyst are subjected to anodic treatment (AT) at 0.8 V vs. DHE using potentiostatic method. Despite causing a slight decrease in the electrochemical surface area (ECSA) of the anode, associated with ruthenium dissolution, AT results in significant improvement in DMFC performance in the ohmic and mass transfer regions and increases the maximum power density by ∼15%. Furthermore, AT improves the long-term DMFC stability by reducing the degradation of the anode catalyst. From XPS investigation, it is hypothesized that the improved performance of AT-treated MEAs is related to an improved interface between the catalyst and Nafion ionomer. Among potential explanations, this improvement may be caused by incorporation of the ionomer within the secondary pores of PtRu/C agglomerates, which generates a percolating network of ionomer between PtRu/C agglomerates in the catalyst layer. Furthermore, the decreased concentration of hydrophobic CF2 groups may help to enhance the hydrophilicity of the catalyst layer, thereby increasing the accessibility of methanol and resulting in better performance in the high current density region.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-60328


  • Anodic treatment
  • CO stripping voltammetry
  • Direct methanol fuel cell
  • Long-term performance
  • MOR polarization
  • Reorganization of Nafion ionomer


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