A novel transmission line (TML) model is proposed for the impedance analysis, which is nondestructive measurement, on degraded cathode catalyst layers in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs). The test PEFC consisted of 1.0 mg/cm2 of Pt-Ru as an anode catalyst, 1.0 mg/cm2 of Pt as a cathode catalyst, and Nafion 212 as an electrolyte. The model counts the distribution of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at the inside and outside of agglomerates of the carbon supported catalysts. We demonstrated the importance of the distribution of the ORR for achieving excellent agreement between the calculated and experimental data. The change in parameters obtained by impedance analysis with the TML model was verified by destructive tests, such as transmission electron microscopy, field emission scanning electron microscopy, cyclic voltammetry, micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and nitrogen adsorption-desorption measurements. Variations of the parameters such as the charge transfer resistance, the double layer capacitance, and the ionic resistance inside and outside the agglomerates of the carbon supported catalysts could be explained by multiple considerations of these destructive test results. Impedance analysis with the TML model offers the possibility understanding the state of degraded cathode catalyst layers in membrane electrode assemblies without the need for disassembling PEFCs.
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