Simulated Start-Stop and the Impact of Catalyst Layer Redox on Degradation and Performance Loss in Low Temperature Electrolysis

Shaun Alia, Kimberly Reeves, David Cullen, Haoran Yu, A. Jeremy Kropf, Nancy Kariuki, Jae Hyung Park, Deborah Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress tests are developed that focus on anode catalyst layer degradation in proton exchange membrane electrolysis due to simulated start-stop operation. Ex situ testing indicates that repeated redox cycling accelerates catalyst dissolution, due to near-surface reduction and the higher dissolution kinetics of metals when cycling to high potentials. Similar results occur in situ, where a large decrease in cell kinetics (>70%) is found along with iridium migrating from the anode catalyst layer into the membrane. Additional processes are observed, however, including changes in iridium oxidation, the formation of thinner and denser catalyst layers, and platinum migration from the transport layer. Increased interfacial weakening is also found, adding to both ohmic and kinetic loss by adding contact resistances and isolating portions of the catalyst layer. Repeated shutoffs of the water flow further accelerate performance loss and increase the frequency of tearing and delamination at interfaces and within catalyst layers. These tests were applied to several commercial catalysts, where higher loss rates were observed for catalysts that contained ruthenium or high metal content. These results demonstrate the need to understand how operational stops occur, to identify how loss mechanisms are accelerated, and to develop strategies to limit performance loss.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-87375


  • electrode kinetics
  • electrolysis
  • energy conversion


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