Applying infrared thermography as a quality-control tool for the rapid detection of polymer-electrolyte-membrane-fuel-cell catalyst-layer-thickness variations
As fuel cells become more prominent, new manufacturing and production methods are needed to enable increased volumes with high quality. One necessary component of this industrial growth will be the accurate measurement of the variability of a wide range of material properties during the manufacturing process. In this study, a method to detect defects in fuel cell catalyst layers is investigated through experiment and mathematical simulation. The method uses infrared thermography and direct-current electronic-excitation methods to detect variations in platinum-containing catalyst-layer thickness with high spatial and temporal resolution. Data analysis, operating-condition impacts, and detection limits are explored, showing the measurement of defects on the millimeter length scale. Overall, the experimental and modeling results demonstrate great potential of this technique as a nondestructive method to measure defects that is amenable to use on roll-to-roll manufacturing lines.