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Polymers 2018, 10(5), 522; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10050522

Degradation of Silicone Rubbers as Sealing Materials for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells under Temperature Cycling

1,2
,
3,* , 1,2
,
1,2
and
1,2,*
1
State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and Processing, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
2
Hubei Key Laboratory of Fuel Cells, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
3
Hubei Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Automotive Components, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 13 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Materials for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage)
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Abstract

Gaskets are compressed in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) to keep fuel, oxidant and coolant within their respective regions and are very important for sealing and maintaining electrochemical performance of fuel cells during their long-term operation. It has been proved that the gas leakage caused by the failure of the gaskets following long-term operation is one of the main reasons for PEMFC performance degradation. In this work, degradation of silicone rubbers, the potential gasket materials for PEMFCs, were investigated in the simulated PEMFC environment solution, weak acid solution, de-ionized water and air, respectively, under alternating temperature cycling from −20 °C to 90 °C. The changes in hardness, weight, chemical properties, mechanical behavior and surface morphology of the samples of silicone rubbers were studied after a certain number of temperature cycles. The results show that with the increase in temperature cycles, the hardness of the samples increases and the weight of the samples decreases gradually. Scanning electron microscopy reveals that cracks and caves constantly appear on the surface of the samples. Attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectra (ATR-FTIR) results demonstrate that the surface chemistry changes via de-crosslinking and chain scission in the backbone due to the exposure of samples to the environments over time under alternating temperature cycles. View Full-Text
Keywords: silicone rubbers; seals; degradation; temperature cycling; PEMFC silicone rubbers; seals; degradation; temperature cycling; PEMFC
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Wu, F.; Chen, B.; Yan, Y.; Chen, Y.; Pan, M. Degradation of Silicone Rubbers as Sealing Materials for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells under Temperature Cycling. Polymers 2018, 10, 522.

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