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Title: Reference electrodes for solid polymer fuel cells: a review.

Author: Hinds, G
(An asterisk (*) after an author's name indicates a non-NPL author)

Source: MAT 25, December 2008
ISSN: 1754-2979

Abstract: This report summarises the state of the art in reference electrodes for solid polymer fuel cells. The two most common reference electrodes used in such systems are the reversible hydrogen electrode and the dynamic hydrogen electrode. Uncertainty in the reliability of reference electrode measurements is mainly associated with the positioning of the reference electrode with respect to the fuel cell electrodes, the stability of the reference electrode and perturbation of fuel cell operation by the reference electrode. Reference electrodes may be positioned either internal or external to the fuel cell. Internal reference electrodes are typically constructed by sandwiching the electrode between two membranes, which may perturb fuel cell operation. External reference electrodes are usually connected to the fuel cell membrane by a salt bridge. The potential measured by an external reference electrode is dominated by edge effects caused by misalignment of the fuel cell electrodes, which are exacerbated by differences in electrode kinetics and mass transport between anode and cathode. There is a clear need for the development of reference electrode configurations that probe the local potential within the active layer without introducing such errors or affecting the performance of the cell.

Document Type: NPL Report

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