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Reference number: 2019M-090, Chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical engineering

Master thesis: Investigation of Physical and Electrochemical Properties of Protic Ionic Liquids in Mid-temperature PEM Fuel Cell

Start of work: at once/by arrangement

There is an increasing requirement in the field of polymer membrane fuel cell (PEFCs) for new proton conducting membrane electrolytes that can be operated at the temperature of around 100 °C and with low water activity. The proton conductivity of perfluorinated polymers with sulfonic acid groups relies on sufficient water swelling. Thus, traditional low temperature PEFCs based on Nafion® membranes are faced with a drying problem that requires feed gas humidification or increased feed gas pressure. Operation above 80 °C is hardly possible. High temperature PEFCs (HT-PEFC), based on phosphoric acid (H3PO4) doped polybenzimidazole membranes (PBI), allow operation of up to 160 - 180 °C. However, due to poisoning effects by H3PO4 species on the redox catalyst and a low solubility of oxygen in H3PO4, the ORR (oxygen reduction reaction) kinetics is sluggish, leading to an insufficient power density and to high costs of the cell.

The proton conducting ionic liquids (PILs) are of special interest because they normally exhibit a high ionic conductivity, low volatility and high thermal stability, as well as a high electrochemical stability over a wide temperature range. Thus, PILs are promising substitutes for H3PO4 as non-aqueous acidic proton conductors for operating temperatures of up to 120 °C.

Your task
Within the scope of the thesis, the PILs based on structure variation are investigated and find the well preformed PIL in application aspects at end. The essential physico-chemical properties for fuel cell operation, i.e. current density, oxygen solubility, oxygen diffusivity, electric conductivity and thermal stability of PILs will be measured.

  • Getting familiar with electrochemical testing methods
  • Synthesis and characterization of PILs
  • Investigation the structure and water content influence on ORR performance
  • Optimization the PIL structure and corresponded testing methods

Your profile

  • Good academic records in chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical engineering or a comparable field
  • Experience in electrochemistry and interested in PEM fuel cell
  • Highly motivated individual
  • Self-reliance and analytical way of working

Our Offer:

  • A pleasant working environment within a highly competent, international team in one of the most prestigious research facilities.
  • You will have the opportunity to work with excited researchers from various scientific fields and get support from our industry partners.
  • You will have the opportunity to take part cell construction and testing.

Hui Hou
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
IEK-3: Electrochemical Process Engineering
52425 Jülich
Tel. +49 (0)2461 61-85360

Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Giffin
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
IEK-3: Electrochemical Process Engineering
Telefon +49 2461 61-6228