Degradation behavior of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell employing metallic bipolar plates under reverse current condition

Kwangsup Eom, Eunae Cho, Suk Woo Nam, Tae Hoon Lim, Jong Hyun Jang, Hyoung Juhn Kim, Bo Ki Hong, Yoo Chang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


To examine durability of metallic bipolar plates (BPs) under reverse current conditions, the degradation of PEMFC employing graphite, bare 316L, and CrN-coated 316L BPs is investigated via a 1.4 V pulse cycling test. After 20 cycles, the average voltage decay rate at 160 mA cm -2 is 6.8, 16.8, and 12.0 mV cycle -1 for the single cell using graphite, bare 316L, and CrN-coated 316L BPs, respectively. SEM, EPMA, and TEM analyses of the cathodes that experienced an extraordinary high voltage of 1.4 V show that carbon corrosion and Pt migration/agglomeration occur similarly for the single cells, irrespective of the bipolar plate material. In contrast, in the membrane tested with bare 316L and CrN-coated 316L, Fe and Cr are detected; the amounts of Fe and Cr in the membrane are higher for bare 316L than for CrN-coated 316L. The membrane contamination results in a decrease in the ionic conductivity of the membranes, which mainly contributes to the faster performance decay of the single cells employing bare 316L and CrN-coated 316L bipolar plates. Thus, if automotive PEMFCs using metallic BPs are exposed to reverse current conditions upon start/stop cycles, metal contamination of the membrane could accelerate the performance decay in addition to the cathode degradation, such as carbon corrosion and Pt migration/agglomeration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-330
Number of pages7
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the New and Renewable Energy R&D Program and the National R&D Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells under the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy as a part of the development of mass production technology for low-cost PEMFC stacks (grant number: 2008-N-FC12-J-02-2-200 ).


  • 1.4 V pulse cycling
  • Bipolar plate
  • Degradation
  • Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell
  • Stainless steel bipolar plate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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