Durability and cost are the two major factors limiting the large-scale implementation of fuel cell technology for use in commercial, residential, or transportation applications. The conditioning cost is usually negligible for making proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) at R&D or demo stage with several tens of stacks each year. However, with industry's focus shifting from component development to commercial high-volume manufacturing, the conditioning process requires significant additional capital investments and operating costs, thus becomes one of the bottlenecks for PEMFC manufacturing, particularly at a high production volume (>1000 stack/year). To understand the mechanisms behind PEMFC conditioning, and to potentially reduce conditioning time or even to eliminate the conditioning process, the conditioning behaviors of commercial Nafion™ XL100 and Nafion® NRE 211 membranes were studied. The potential effects of the membrane additive on fuel cell conditioning were diagnosed using in situ electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). It was found that the membrane additive led to the significant variation of the charge transfer resistance in EIS during conditioning, which affected the conditioning behavior of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA).

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