Single-Wall Carbon Nanotube-Based Proton Exchange Membrane Assembly for Hydrogen Fuel Cells

A membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for hydrogen fuel cells has been fabricated using single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) support and platinum catalyst. Films of SWCNTs and commercial platinum (Pt) black were sequentially cast on a carbon fiber electrode (CFE) using a simple electrophoretic deposition procedure. Scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy showed that the nanotubes and the platinum retained their nanostructure morphology on the carbon fiber surface. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) revealed that the carbon nanotube-based electrodes exhibited an order of magnitude lower charge-transfer reaction resistance (Rct) for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) than did the commercial carbon black (CB)-based electrodes. The proton exchange membrane (PEM) assembly fabricated using the CFE/SWCNT/Pt electrodes was evaluated using a fuel cell testing unit operating with H2 and O2 as input fuels at 25 and 60 °C. The maximum power density obtained using CFE/SWCNT/Pt electrodes as both the anode and the cathode was ∼20% better than that using the CFE/CB/Pt electrodes.