Cathode design for proton exchange membrane fuel cells in automotive applications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Haojie Wang
  • Ruiqing Wang
  • Sheng Sui
  • Tai Sun
  • Yichang Yan

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • East China University of Science and Technology
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Guangdong Research Institute of Rare Metal


An advanced cathode design can improve the power performance and durability of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), thus reducing the stack cost of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Recent studies on highly active Pt alloy catalysts, short-side-chain polyfluorinated sulfonic acid (PFSA) ionomer and 3D-ordered electrodes have imparted PEMFCs with boosted power density. To achieve the compacted stack target of 6 kW/L or above for the wide commercialization of FCVs, developing available cathodes for high-power-density operation is critical for the PEMFC. However, current developments still remain extremely challenging with respect to highly active and stable catalysts in practical operation, controlled distribution of ionomer on the catalyst surface for reducing catalyst poisoning and oxygen penetration losses and 3D (three-dimensional)-ordered catalyst layers with low Knudsen diffusion losses of oxygen molecular. This review paper focuses on impacts of the cathode development on automotive fuel cell systems and concludes design directions to provide the greatest benefit.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: SD would like to acknowledge support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, EP/L015749/1). SS gratefully acknowledges the financial supports from the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant agreement No 21576164. Thanks are also to the support from Guangdong Academy of Sciences project (2019 GDASYL-0503005). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-164
Number of pages21
JournalAutomotive Innovation
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Fuel cell vehicles, Ionomer, Mass transport, Cathode, Proton exchange membrane fuel cell, PEMFC, FCV, Electrode, Catalyst layer, Catalyst, Oxygen reduction reaction (ORR)