National Physical Laboratory

Fuel cell testing

NPL has world-class facilities for testing and characterisation of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells at single cell and short stack level. We carry out independent testing in accordance with international standards using fully calibrated state-of-the-art fuel cell test stations.

Fuel cell testing

In addition to standard fuel cell testing, the NPL facilities include a unique reference electrode array that can be applied to a single cell PEM fuel cell to generate a spatial map of anode and cathode potential across the active area of the cell. This is a powerful tool for identification of heterogeneities in performance that limit the efficiency and lifetime of the cell.

The NPL reference electrode array is used by our industry and academic partners to characterise carbon corrosion in the cathode catalyst support during start-up/shut-down. Our test facility combines measurement of the spatial variation of electrode potential across the active area of the cell with monitoring of carbon dioxide concentration at the cathode outlet. This cutting-edge diagnostic technique can be used to characterise durability of catalysts and MEAs, investigate critical degradation mechanisms and develop mitigation strategies for start-up/shut-down degradation. Localised measurement of relative humidity in the flowfield gas channels is also available, providing important information on water management in the cell.

The NPL facilities are available for both collaborative research and commercial-in-confidence test work.


Dr Gareth Hinds tel: +44 20 8943 7147

Last Updated: 5 Nov 2015
Created: 5 Nov 2015


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