Linking the ionomer film morphology and nanoscale oxygen transport properties in fuel cells

Linhao Fan, Qing Du, Meng Ni, Kui Jiao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Transport processes are crucial for the performance of electrochemical energy conversion devices and attract wide attentions. This work focuses on the critical oxygen transport process in the ionomer electrolyte film on a Pt electrode, which highly limits the performance of low Pt-loading fuel cells. Reduction of oxygen transport resistance may be achieved by optimizing the ionomer film morphology. Therefore, the relationship between ionomer film morphology and oxygen transport characteristics is explored by altering ionomer side chain lengths in this work. The results show that the swollen structure with larger water agglomerates in the ionomer film with shorter ionomer side chains is detrimental to the formation of oxygen transport paths. However, the multilamellar structure with an alternating alignment of water agglomerates and PFSA ionomer agglomerates in the ionomer film with longer ionomer side chains has a larger water-PFSA interface, which provides more oxygen transport paths and thus reduces the oxygen transport resistance. This work inspires the novel design concept of the ionomer electrolyte film with low local oxygen transport resistance, i.e., enlarging the water-PFSA interface parallel to the oxygen transport direction via altering the ionomer material properties, which is valuable for the development of low Pt-loading fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100243
JournalApplications in Energy and Combustion Science
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Fuel cells
  • Ionomer electrolyte
  • Morphology
  • Oxygen transport
  • Pt electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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