Fiber-optic sensor for detection of hydrogen peroxide in PEM fuel cells




Botero-Cadavid, Juan F.

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This dissertation presents chemical sensors that are based on an emerging optical fiber sensing technology for the determination of the presence and concentration of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) at low concentrations. The motivation to determine hydrogen peroxide lies on the fact that this chemical species is generated as a by-product of the operation of hydrogen-based polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), and the presence and formation of this peroxide has been associated with the chemical degradation that results in low durability of PEMFCs. Currently, there are no techniques that allow the hydrogen peroxide to be determined in situ in PEMFCs in a reliable manner, since the only report of this type of measurement was performed using electrochemical techniques, which can be affected by the environmental conditions and that can alter the proper operation of the PEMFCs. The sensors presented in this dissertation are designed to detect the presence and quantify hydrogen peroxide in solution at the conditions at which PEMFCs operate. Since they are made using fused silica optical fibers and are based on a spectroscopic technique to perform the detection of H2O2 , they are not affected by the electromagnetic fields or the harsh chemical environment inside PEMFCs. In addition, they are able to still detect the presence of H2O2 at the operating temperatures. The construction of the sensing film on the tip of an optical fiber and its small size (125 µm diameter), make the sensors here developed an ideal solution for being deployed in situ in PEMFCs, ensuring that they would be minimally invasive and that the operation of the fuel cell would not be compromised by the presence of the sensor. The sensors developed in this dissertation not only present design characteristics that are applicable to PEMFCs, they are also suitable for applications in other fields such as environmental, defense, and biological processes.



Fuel cells, Optical fiber sensor, Hydrogen peroxide, PEMFC, Degradation fuel cells, Prussian blue, Optrode, Electrostatic self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, Membrane degradation, Temperature