The most expensive component of a fuel cell is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which consists of an ionomer membrane coated with catalyst material. Best-performing MEAs are currently fabricated by depositing and drying liquid catalyst ink on the membrane; however, this process is limited to individual preparation by hand due to the membrane's rapid water absorption that leads to shape deformation and coating defects. A continuous coating line can reduce the cost and time needed to fabricate the MEA, incentivizing the commercialization and widespread adoption of fuel cells. A pilot-scale membrane coating line was designed for such a task and is described in this paper. Accurate process control is necessary to prevent manufacturing defects from occurring in the coating line. A linear-quadratic-Gaussian (LQG) controller was developed based on a physics-based model of the coating process to optimally control the temperature and humidity of the drying zones. The process controller was implemented in the pilot-scale coating line proving effective in preventing defects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)