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ECS Short Courses


Vienna, Austria | Sunday, October 4, 2009

Short Course #2
Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells
Hubert Gasteiger and Thomas. J. Schmidt, Instructors

This short-course develops the fundamental thermodynamics and electrocatalytic processes critical to polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). In the first part, we will discuss the relevant half-cell reactions, their thermodynamic driving forces, and their mathematical foundations in electrocatalysis theory (e.g., Butler-Volmer equations). Subsequently, this theoretical framework will be applied to catalyst characterization and the evaluation of kinetic parameters.

In the second part of the course, we will illuminate the different functional requirements of actual PEMFC components and present basic in-situ diagnostics (Pt surface area, shorting, H2 crossover, electronic resistance, etc.). This will be used to develop an in-depth understanding of the various voltage loss terms that constitute a polarization curve. Finally, we will apply this learning to describe the principles of fuel cell catalyst activity measurements, the impact of uncontrolled-operation events (e.g., cell reversal), and the various effects of long-term materials degradation.

To benefit most effectively from this course, registrants should have completed at least their first two years of a bachelor’s program in physics, chemistry, or engineering; or have several years of experience with PEMFCs.


About the Instructors

Hubert Gasteiger received his BS in technical chemistry from the Fachhochschule Nürnberg (Germany) in 1986, his MS in chemical engineering from Oregon State University, and his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. He spent nine years in academic research on fundamental electrocatalysis and fuel cell related gas-phase catalysis, followed by seven years of industrial R&D in fuel cell development for automotive applications. Dr. Gasteiger was involved in the stack component design for GM/Opel’s H2-powered fuel cell vehicles, and led an R&D group in fuel cell stack materials development (membranes, catalysts, membrane electrode assemblies) at GM/Opel’s Fuel Cell Activities program in Honeoye Falls, New York. He is currently a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He co-authored 50 peer-reviewed publications and served as Co-Editor-In-Chief for Wiley’s Handbook of Fuel Cells – Fundamentals, Technology, and Applications (2003). In 2004, he received the Klaus-Jürgen Vetter Award for Electrochemical Kinetics from the International Society of Electrochemistry.

Thomas J. Schmidt received his University Diploma (1996) and his PhD (2000) in Chemistry from the University of Ulm (Germany), before he joined the group of P.N. Ross at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. During this period, he intensively studied the fundamentals of electrocatalysis of fuel cell reactions. He continued to work at Paul Scherrer Institute on the development of membrane electrode assemblies using radiation-grafted membranes and on oxygen electrocatalysis with oxide containing catalysts. For the last seven years, he has been is working in the industrial development of high temperature membrane electrode assemblies and its components (membranes, catalysts, electrodes) using polybenzimidazole based membranes at BASF Fuel Cell Gmbh where he currently holds the position of the Director of R&D. Dr. Schmidt co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, nine book chapters and he is the inventor on 15 patent applications. He recently served as co-editor of the book entitled Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Durability (Springer).

For additional information about Education, please contact: education


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