Effect of cathode catalyst layer thickness on methanol cross-over in a DMFC

Saif Matar, Hongtan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The effects of cathode catalyst layer (CCL) thickness on the detrimental effect of methanol cross-over in a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) under various operating conditions are studied. Three membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with different CCL thicknesses but identical catalyst loading and identical anode catalyst layer are used. The results show that, when a thicker CCL, approximately twice the thickness of the base case, is used, the fuel cell performance increases significantly. The increase in performance with a thicker CCL is attributed to the oxidation of the methanol crossed-over in part of the catalyst layer and leaving the rest of the catalyst layer free from methanol contamination, leading to mitigations of the effects of mixed potentials. The results of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) show that the charge transfer resistance for the fuel cell with twice the thickness of CCL is 30% lower compared to that for the base case, indicating that the active catalyst area available for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is indeed greater. The results of the electrochemical active surface areas (ECA) show that without methanol contamination, the ECA of the thicker CCL is actually lower, indicating that the better performance and the lower charge transfer resistance are not caused by a higher original ECA, but a higher active area for ORR. A much thicker CCL, about 5 times of that for the base case, is also used and the cell performance is also higher than that for the base case. The experimental results show that there exists an optimum cathode catalyst layer thickness and the thickness of cathode catalyst layer has a significant effect on DMFC performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-606
Number of pages7
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Catalyst layer thickness
  • Cathode
  • DMFC
  • ECA
  • Impedance spectroscopy
  • Methanol cross-over

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrochemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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