Nafion® manufactured by Dupont is a widely used membrane material for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Such membranes are made thin and also have to be hydrated during operation to increase proton conductivity of the cell. Since the membranes are made thin, and do not posses high mechanical properties, they are prone to any handling induced damage. In this paper, we have made an initial attempt to demonstrate the capability of thermal wave imaging nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technique in detecting various types of damage entities such as scratches, folding, and pin pricks in the membrane material. In addition, the effect of hydration and handling induced damage on the tensile behavior of Nafion® membrane is studied. It is observed that the damaged and as-received hydrated samples exhibit lower modulus and yield strength than the corresponding dry counterparts.

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