Modeling Water Electrolysis in Bipolar Membranes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus Citations


Bipolar membranes (BPMs) have proven useful in numerous electrochemical energy conversion and storage applications, including fuel cells and electrolyzers. However, water dissociation in bipolar membrane electrolysis cells (BPMECs) is a complicated phenomenon that occurs via several different pathways. In this work, we develop a model based on the Poisson-Nernst-Planck system that includes a multistep water-dissociation mechanism to observe the fundamental processes that contribute to BPMEC performance. The model, which is validated to in-house experimental data, demonstrates that the junction potential is the most significant contributor to the total electrolysis voltage. We investigated the effects of water-dissociation catalysts and found that the optimal catalyst pKa depends on how the catalyst is integrated into the BPM (although values near 7 are typically best, in accordance with conventional wisdom). We also simulated the water content across the BPM and found that dry-out is not a significant issue when the membrane is in contact with liquid water on both sides. The species conservation approach taken here leads to a physical understanding of the system without using any fitting parameters.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number114502
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Electrochemical Society ("ECS"). Published on behalf of ECS by IOP Publishing Limited.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-77051


  • bipolar membranes
  • electrolysis
  • hydrogen
  • ion exchange membranes
  • Second Wien Effect
  • water dissociation


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling Water Electrolysis in Bipolar Membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this