Membrane Pretreatment and Cell Conditioning for Proton Exchange Membrane Water Electrolysis

Research output: NRELPresentation


As the research community studying proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE) grows, it is important to develop methods that achieve transparent, reproducible research. Reproducibility of performance and durability is a challenge facing the PEMWE field, as the published literature includes a wide spread of results obtained with nominally similar materials. Prior round-robin performance benchmarking efforts [1] have identified inadequate cell conditioning as a major source of variation in apparent cell performance. Inadequate pre-treatment and conditioning can lead to instability in initial performance and adds ambiguity to durability measurements. However, excessively prolonged conditioning procedures limit the throughput of testing and the pace of research. Pretreatment and conditioning methods vary significantly across the research literature, but little systematic investigation is available into the mechanisms of these procedures or how procedural differences may impact results. This presentation will discuss investigations into the effects of membrane pre-treatment and operating procedures during cell conditioning on initial performance and catalyst-specific accelerated stress tests, with the aim of recommending procedures to enable clear, reproducible, and high-throughput research. Methods investigated include the use of hydrogen peroxide, acids, and hydration at elevated temperature for membrane pretreatment, and conditioning procedures such as current or voltage holds and cycling. The investigations cover both the impacts of these procedures on cell performance and stability as well as underlying mechanisms and processes taking place in the cell materials.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 240th Electrochemical Society (ECS) Meeting, 10-14 October 2021, Orlando, Florida

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5900-80955


  • cell
  • electrolysis
  • polymer electrolyte membrane
  • pretreatment


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