Improved PEM Fuel Cell Electrodes by Controlled Self Assembly

PEM fuel cell electrodes are complex nanostructures containing catalyst, proton and electron conductors, and pores. Their properties are strongly influenced by the materials used, the ratio of proton to electron conductors, and the pore characteristics. Furthermore, the sizes and orientations of these nanoseparated phases control the transport properties. This article describes work that investigates the self-organized nature of electrode nanostructures, and methods to improve electrode properties by controled self-ordering. It also discusses the significant benefits this seems to offer in terms of greatly reduced platinum use and hence cost of fuel cells.