Effect of fluoride ions on corrosion behavior of SS316L in simulated proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) cathode environments

Ying Yang, Lie jin Guo, Hongtan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


In order to determine the suitability of SS316L as a bipolar plate material in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), its corrosion behavior is studied under different simulated PEMFC cathode corrosion conditions. Solutions of 1 × 10-5 M H2SO4 with a wide range of different F- concentrations at 70 °C bubbled with air are used to simulate the PEMFC cathode environment. Electrochemical methods, both potentiodynamic and potentiostatic, are employed to study the corrosion behavior. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is used to examine the surface morphology of the specimen after it is potentiostatic polarized under simulated PEMFC cathode environments. Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) analysis is used to identify the composition and the depth profile of the passive film formed on the SS316L surface after it is polarized in simulated PEMFC cathode environments. Photo-electrochemical (PEC) method and capacitance measurements are used to characterize the semiconductor passive films. The results of both the potentiodynamic and potentiostatic analyses show that corrosion currents increase with F- concentrations. SEM examination results indicate that pitting occurs under all the conditions studied and pitting is more severe with higher F- concentrations. From the results of AES analysis, PEC analysis and the capacitance measurements, it is determined that the passive film formed on SS316L is a bi-layer semiconductor, similar to a p-n heterojunction consisting of an external n-type iron oxide rich semiconductor layer (electrolyte side) and an internal p-type iron-chromium oxide semiconductor layer (metal side). Further analyses of the experimental results reveal the electronic structure of the passive film and shed light on the corrosion mechanisms of SS316L in the PEMFC cathode environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5651-5659
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


  • Bipolar plate
  • Corrosion
  • Passive film
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC)
  • Stainless steel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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