Operando characterisation of the impact of carbon monoxide on PEMFC performance using isotopic labelling and gas analysis

Hans Becker (Corresponding Author), Thomas Bacquart, Mark Perkins, Niamh Moore, Jari Ihonen, Gareth Hinds, Graham Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Impurities in hydrogen can have a detrimental effect on the performance of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) used in automotive applications. However, the establishment of reliable threshold limits for each impurity is hampered by a lack of information on the distribution and speciation of impurities within the cell, including the impact of internal reactions and gas crossover. Here we describe a novel operando method for detailed investigation of the impact of impurities on a single cell PEMFC, using a combination of isotopic labelling and measurement of gas composition at the anode exhaust via Gas Chromatography – Methaniser with Flame Ionisation Detector (GC-Methaniser-FID) and Selected Ion Flow Tube – Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS). We demonstrate the utility of this approach in the study of the impact of internal air bleed on carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, enabling quantification of the surface coverage of CO on the anode catalyst as a function of cathode back-pressure. This technique shows great promise as a diagnostic tool for the investigation of the impact of a wide range of impurities at stack level (e.g. hydrocarbons, ammonia, halogenated compounds).

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100036
    JournalJournal of Power Sources Advances
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    This work was funded by the National Measurement System of the UK’s Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 779475, HYDRAITE. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe, and Hydrogen Europe Research.


    • Carbon monoxide
    • Fuel cells
    • Hydrogen
    • Hydrogen purity
    • Operando characterisation
    • Selective ionisation mass spectrometry


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