Manufacture of fuel cell electrodes by the thin-film method was originally proposed by Wilson et al. [1, 2] for proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). This technology was subsequently utilized for the manufacture of direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) electrodes by Ren et al. [3]. Key processing steps in the thin-film process are catalyst ink formulation and its application. The catalyst ink is typically composed of supported or unsupported catalysts, binder (ionomer), solvents and additives. Rheological properties of the ink, amount of binder, and choice of solvents are tuned to match the particular ink application process used to fabricate the electrode, as each coating process has its own unique requirements. Besides affecting the coating process, the choice and ratios of these components can significantly affect the electrochemical performance of the electrode. In this study, catalyst inks are designed and investigated for the spraying process, for utilization in the continuous fabrication of DMFC electrodes. For this purpose, the effect of the binder (ionomer) content on the performance of the electrodes is studied in detail. Decal-transfer electrodes are fabricated on a custom-built automated spraying apparatus with individually specified anode and cathode binder contents, and assembled to form a catalyst coated membrane (CCM) type membrane electrode assembly (MEA). These electrodes are rigorously tested to specifically identify their electrochemical performance, catalyst utilization and electrode morphology.

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