Electrokinetic Structuring of Catalyst Layers for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
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This thesis investigates the possibility of using electrokinetic effects, induced when a colloidal system is subjected to an electric field, to produce deterministic structure in the catalyst layer of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. The susceptibility of the catalyst ink system to electrokinetic effects is clearly demonstrated. A novel apparatus and procedure is developed to allow for the formation of continuous films between two electrode surfaces through solvent evaporation. Characterization of the resulting layers is done through imaging and rotating disc electrode measurements. While the images show some possibility of structure formation, no clear increase in the oxygen reduction rate is observed. Recommendations for extending this work are provided.