Li, Na

PROJECT TITLE: A Study on Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolyzer Degradation Test, Mechanism Analysis and Modeling

PhD period: 2017.11.01 - 2020.10.31.
Section: Thermal Energy Systems
Research Programme: Fuel Cell and Battery Systems
Supervisor: Søren Knudsen Kær
Co-Supervisor: Samuel Simon Araya
Contact information

Collaborators: To be announced later.
Funding: Department of Energy Technology and The China Scholarship Council.


To solve the global energy crisis and environmental problems caused by fossil fuel combustion, the development of clean and renewable energy technologies has become the focus of current research. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy production comes with many challenges. A promising candidate in the context of stability of grids with a high penetration of renewable energy sources is the proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology. High efficiencies, wide operation range and rapid response time have motivated the recent interest in PEM electrolysis for hydrogen generation with surplus electricity. However, degradation at high current densities and the associated mechanism has not been thoroughly explored so far. The study of PEM electrolyzer degradation is particularly important. Denmark is a worldwide pioneer in implementing clean power grid such as wind power, green hydrogen production and their application.

Although the basic technology of water electrolysis is mature, little experience with PEM electrolyzers is reported. Especially lifetime investigation is lacking research. Improvement in reliability is crucial to achieve higher market penetration. The key motivation of this PhD study is to contribute to this fairly un-investigated topic that can conduce to a sustainable energy production. On the basis of existing methods, try to search for new lifetime assessment and degradation mechanism analysis methods. The expected outcome is to contribute to filling that gap in research by experimental and modeling work.

The major problems and hypothesis that are tried to be attacked in this project can be summarized as:

  • Identify the major degradation mechanisms.
  • Identify the contribution of the components such as membrane and catalyst to performance degradation.    
  • Develop AST protocols and try to seek for new lifetime assessment and degradation mechanism analysis methods.
  • Analyze the causes of different degradation mechanism and find solutions to achieve higher market penetration of PEM electrolyzer.
  • Fully characterization of fairly fresh membrane electrode assembly (MEA) by IR, NMR, MS, XPS, XRD as well as other techniques.


Publications in journals and conference papers may be found at VBN.