Visualization inside polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is important for elucidating reaction distributions to improve the performance and durability of the cells. An O2-sensitive porphyrin luminescent dye film was used to visualize oxygen partial pressures and water blockages simultaneously in triple-serpentine gas flow channels in an operating PEFC. Water droplets formed near the exit of a gas-flow channel lowered the oxygen partial pressure noticeably over the channel by blocking air flow near the entrance. Meanwhile, air was continuously supplied from the other channels through the gas diffusion layer, thus allowing power to be generated in the blocked channel. With water blockages, however, the catalyst layer under the channel became flooded by the water produced during the reaction, and the flooded state continued to exist in the catalyst and/or porous layers, even after blowing the water droplet out, so that the power generation was lowered along the channel.
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