A study on Nafion® nanocomposite membranes for proton exchange membrane fuel cells

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Adigoppula, Vinay Kumar
Asmatulu, Ramazan

With a rise in demand for electricity and depletion of fossil fuel levels, researchers are looking for an alternative resource to generate power, one which is more environmentally friendly. Fuel cells are one of the best alternatives presently available and are considered by many to be the most promising energy sources with efficiencies of up to 60%. Presently, the cost associated with the usage of fuel cells available in the market is quite high. Researchers are trying to bring down costs associated with their usage and improve efficiency. PEM fuel cells are one of the most promising types of fuel cells. Researchers are currently trying to improve its efficiency by improving its electrolyte. Nafion® is one of the main electrolyte used in PEM fuel cells as it acts as proton conductor. Graphene has an exceptionally high surface area to volume ratio and excellent strength. Current research is focused on integrating graphene in PEM fuel cell electrolytes to improve performance. In this study, graphene is added to Nafion® in varying weight percentages to study the performance of the fuel cell given these changes. The graphene weight percentage is varied by 1, 2, 3, and 4. The fuel cell was operated and it was observed that with the addition of graphene there is an improvement in voltage, proton conductivity, and electron conductivity of the PEM fuel cell. The improvement of proton conductivity and electron conductivity followed a linear path with the increase in graphene weight percentage in the Nafion®. Physical properties of the Nafion® membrane with additional graphene were measured and found out that dielectric constant and thermal conductivity also improved linearly with an increase in graphene weight percentage.

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Thesis (M.S.)--Wichita State University, College of Engineering, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.