With the current economic and environmental situation, the development of affordable and clean energy sources is receiving much attention. One leading area of promise is PEM fuel cells. Presently, manufacture of high temperature Polybenzimidizole (PBI) based PEM Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs) is usually performed by sealing in a thermal press. A typical sealing process requires heated tooling to press electrode-subgasket assemblies into a sol-gel PBI membrane. MEAs designed for transportation purposes have a large active area that requires expensive heated tooling, which in turn requires significant power to operate. A previous Design of Experiments (DoE) and analysis revealed that sealing temperature is a statistically insignificant sealing parameter with respect to MEA performance. To further investigate the effects of sealing temperature on MEA performance in hopes of reducing manufacturing costs, an additional DoE was performed in which MEAs were manufactured with the tooling at room temperature. This paper examines the effect of thermal sealing process parameters, namely: (1) sealing temperature; (2) percent compression, and; (3) seal time on the fuel cell performance. MEAs were manufactured using three different thickness membranes with these input process parameters. Polarization behavior during single cell operation, internal cell resistance and catalyst utilization were analyzed as performance parameters. This data is compared to MEAs made with traditional heated tooling. The analysis reveals the insignificance of sealing temperature on the initial performance of the MEA.

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