The operando evaluation thrust is performing accelerated stress tests to understand what the state of the art is in terms of durability testing, benchmarking the durability of different materials, and looking at contaminants and impurities to understand the effects on durability from different system contaminants and air contaminants.

 Research Focus

Performance and Durability Benchmarking

FC-PAD is benchmarking performance and durability by:

  • Studying operational effects on durability—for example, segmented cell studies, drive cycle
  • Developing and validating accelerated stress test (AST) protocols including freeze protocol, shut-down/start-up protocol, and refined membrane and catalyst ASTs
  • Analyzing reversible degradation mechanisms by quantifying the effect of platinum oxidation, surface contamination, and mass transport effects
  • Investigating the effects of air, fuel, and system contaminants and impurities.

Durability Testing

FC-PAD is providing durability testing to catalyst, membrane, gas diffusion layer (GDL), bipolar plate, and membrane electrode assembly (MEA) developers. This includes performing stress tests on MEAs to track:

  • Membrane degradation through fluoride release, membrane thinning, and high frequency resistance changes
  • Catalyst degradation through electrochemical surface area, mass activity, performance loss, platinum particle size growth, and platinum deposition within the membrane
  • Catalyst support degradation through carbon dioxide emission, surface characterization, catalyst layer thinning, catalyst layer morphology changes, electrode capacitance changes, and mass transport losses
  • GDL degradation through surface characterization, pore size characterization, and mass transport losses
  • Bipolar plate degradation through contaminant measurements and contact resistance changes

Performance Characterization

FC-PAD is characterizing performance by:

  • Performing power cycling on MEAs under various operating conditions including sub-zero operation, in the presence of contaminants, and in segmented cells
  • Quantifying voltage losses in MEA and attributing them to materials properties using in situ electrochemical characterization, ex situ materials characterization and fuel cell models

Participating Labs

These national laboratories will conduct the foundational technical work in the operando evaluation thrust area:

See lab capabilities 


Rangachary Mukundan
Operando Evaluation—Benchmarking, Accelerated Stress Testing, and Contaminants Thrust Coordinator
Los Alamos National Laboratory
[email protected]