Investigation of Hygro-Thermal Strain in Polymer Electrolyte Membranes Using Optical Coherence Elastography




Keller, Victor

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The work present in this thesis report introduces a novel non-destructive technique for experimentally measuring through thickness hygro-thermal strain of Nafion membranes though digital image correlation. An Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) system was used to acquire images of a Nafion-TiO2 (titanium dioxide powder) composite membranes in a fuel cell like device. The proposed technique, commonly known as optical coherence elastography (OCE) makes use of the normalized correlation algorithm to calculate strain between two successive scans of different relative humidity step values. Different normalized correlation parameters were compared to measured results of PDMS-TiO2 phantoms in order to analyze accuracy. The effect of TiO2 on Nafion membranbes mechanical properties was further analysed by comparing the swelling behaviour of membranes with different concentrations. It has been found that Nafion undergoes approximately 25 – 30% more strain on the land section than on the channel section, regardless gas diffusion electrode (GDE) layer presence. Furthermore, it was shown that the overall strain on the material decrease by approximately 10% when GDE layers are present. Overall this work demonstrated how OCE is a viable technique for measuring through thickness strain distribution in Nafion composite membranes and has the potential to be implemented for non-destructive in situ measurements.



Fuel Cell, PEMFC, Polymer Electrolyte Membrane, Optical Coherence Tomography, Elastography, Speckle tracking, Digital image correlation