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The effect of the micro-porous layer (MPL) in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) was studied by a combination of in situ visualization of the liquid water distribution and advanced electrochemical analysis using helox and O2 pulses. Four cells with and without MPLs on the anode and cathode side were tested. Visualization studies showed that the significant changes in performance observed when using an MPL on the cathode side cannot be related to a reduction of the water content in the cathode side diffusion layer (GDL). The helox/O2 pulse analysis indicated that two different mechanisms are responsible for the performance loss without an MPL.
This article underlines with examples of studies for energy related materials and processes how important and useful the technique of neutron imaging can be for our future energy supply. With the help of the particularly designed configurations for each such study it becomes possible to derive essential information for the material properties and their change in a non-invasive manner.
The four mentioned examples (PEM fuel cell, Li-battery, hydrogen storage and nuclear fuel inspection) cover a very wide range of applications and demonstrate the high potential of the various used methods in neutron imaging.
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