Investigating superhydrophobic behaviors of pan nano-fibers on the properties of gas diffusion layers of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell

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Mohammad, Salahuddin
Asmatulu, Ramazan

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are considered to be the promising alternatives of natural resources for generating electricity. This research is based on gas diffusion layers (GDL) fabricated in the laboratory from carbon fibers by electrospinning with different concentrations of hydrophobic and hydrophilic agents in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). The research investigates better water management, conductivity, and gas permeability in PEMFCs for their effective functionalization. Carbonized PAN nanofibers are utilized with some hydrophobic agents such as Ultra-Ever Dry solutions (for top and bottom coatings) and Krytox 157 FSH Oil and hydrophilic agents such as potassium permanganate (KMnO4) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) so as to impart their properties on the GDL which can perform better in a fuel cell by preventing water to enter into the electrodes and passing the oxygen through the hydrophobic area. The thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of this GDL depicted better results. The water condensation tests on the surfaces (super-hydrophobic and hydrophilic) of the GDL show an important approach for improved water management in the fuel cell. The PAN GDL with different surface coatings enhanced the properties and functions of the GDL, thereby increasing the overall fuel cell performance. This study may open up new possibilities for developing high-performing GDL materials for future PEMFC applications.

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