Paul Scherrer Institut

Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) is a multi-disciplinary Swiss federal research center for natural sciences and technology. PSI is active in solid state physics, materials sciences, elementary particle physics, life sciences, nuclear and non-nuclear energy research, with a staff of ca. 1200 persons. The Electrochemistry Laboratory (ECL), currently comprising 50 people, has a long term experience in the development of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC), advanced lithium batteries, super capacitors, and electrochemistry related materials research. In the area of PEFC, successful activities are being carried out since 1989 in the fields of materials development, cell development, in situ diagnostics as well as for stack and system development. A full infrastructure for materials research, including access (on campus) to neutron and synchrotron beam lines is available. Laboratory infrastructure for PEFC cell testing from micro-cells to stacks is present. The fuel cell activity at PSI has an esteemed scientific literature record.

Our laboratory has over a decade of experience in the development of radiation grafted membranes for fuel cells. The commitment encompasses both fundamental research aspects, such as the identification of structure-property relationships using small angle neutron and x-ray scattering techniques, as well as applied research, with a focus on understanding performance characteristics in the fuel cell and the identification of membrane and MEA degradation mechanisms.

The main tasks attributed and previous experiences
The membrane materials developed for the application in the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) will be taken as a basis for the design of membranes for use in electrolysis cells. Radiation grafting is a versatile technique for the functionalisation of polymers to introduce a desired property, such as proton conductivity. The experience gained in tailoring membrane properties, such as ion exchange capacity, water uptake and proton conductivity via the careful choice of base film and grafting monomer(s) and the adjustment of membrane architecture, e.g. graft level, extent of crosslinking, will be of advantage for this project. PSI’s technical involvement has its main focus on the development of innovative membrane materials and on providing support in the task of MEA design and preparation.

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Published March 11, 2013