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ECS Short Courses

San Francisco, CA | Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013

Short Course #3
Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells
Hubert Gasteiger and Thomas Schmidt, Instructors

Please visit the San Francisco meeting page for registration information. Early-Bird Registration rates are in effect until September 27, 2013. See a list of all Short courses offered at the San Francisco meeting.

This Short Course develops the fundamental thermodynamics and electrocatalytic processes critical to polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs, including Direct Methanol and Alkaline Membrane FCs). In the first part, we will discuss the relevant half-cell reactions, their thermodynamic driving forces, and their mathematical foundations in electrocatalysis theory (e.g., Butler-Volmer equations). Subsequently, this theoretical framework will be applied to catalyst characterization and the evaluation of kinetic parameters like activation energies, exchange current densities, reaction orders, etc.

In the second part of the course, we will illuminate the different functional requirements of actual PEFC (incl. DMFC and AMFC) components and present basic in situ diagnostics (Pt surface area, shorting, H2 crossover, electronic resistance, etc.). This will be used to develop an in-depth understanding of the various voltage loss terms that constitute a polarization curve. Finally, we will apply this learning to describe the principles of fuel cell catalyst activity measurements, the impact of uncontrolled-operation events (e.g., cell reversal), and the various effects of long-term materials degradation.

To benefit most effectively from this course, registrants should have completed at least their first two years of a bachelor’s program in physics, chemistry, or engineering; or have several years of experience with PEFCs.

About the Instructors

Hubert A. Gasteiger received his MS in chemical engineering from Oregon State University in 1988, and his PhD in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1993 (with Elton Cairns). After postdoctoral positions at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory with Phil Ross and Nenad Markovic and at Ulm University (with Jürgen Behm), he joined GM/Opel’s Fuel Cell Activities program (Honeoye Falls, NY, USA) as Technical Manager for PEM fuel cell materials development (1998-2008), where he was promoted to GM Technical Fellow (2004). Subsequently, he worked for one year as Director of Catalyst Technologies at Acta S.p.A. (Italy). In 2009 he was appointed Visiting Professor at MIT in the group of Yang Shao-Horn, working on lithium-air batteries and fuel cell electrocatalysis. Since 2010 he is Full Professor at the Technische Universität München, focusing on materials and electrode development for batteries and fuel cells.

Prof. Gasteiger has co-authored 83 peer-reviewed publications, 15 book chapters, and 31 patents/patent applications. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for Wiley’s Handbook of Fuel Cells (vols. 1 4 in 2003 & vols. 5&6 in 2009) and currently leads the ECS Fuel Cell Subcommittee. In 2004, he received the Klaus-Jürgen Vetter Award from the International Society of Electrochemistry, became a Fellow of the ECS in 2011, and received the Grove Medal for fuel cell research in 2012.

Thomas J. Schmidt received his University Diploma (1996) and his PhD (2000) in Chemistry from the University of Ulm (Germany, with Jürgen Behm), before he joined the group of P. N. Ross and Nenad Markovic at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He continued to work with G. G. Scherer at Paul Scherrer Institut’s Electrochemistry Laboratory in Villigen/Switzerland. Since the fall of 2002, he has been working in the industrial development of high temperature membrane electrode assemblies and their components. During these eight years in industry, Dr. Schmidt led the high-temperature MEA R&D activities as Director of R&D and helped to successfully commercialize the BASF Fuel Cell Celtec® MEAs. At the same time, during 2009 and 2010, he was working as Lecturer for Physical Chemistry at Provadis School of International Management and Technology, University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt/Germany.

In February 2011, Dr. Schmidt became a Full Professor and Chair of Electrochemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and also holds the position of Head of the Electrochemistry Laboratory at Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland. He is the 2010 ECS Charles W. Tobias Young Investigator Award recipient. He was awarded the Otto Monsted Guest Professorhip of the Energy Conversion and Storage Department at the Technical University of Denmark (2013).

For additional information about Education, please contact: education


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