Electrochemical extraction of oxygen using PEM electrolysis technology
Electrochemical extraction of oxygen from air can be carried out by chemical reduction of oxygen at the cathode and simultaneous oxygen evolution by water anode oxidation. The present investigation deals with the use of an electrolysis cell of PEM technology for this purpose. A dedicated 25 cm2 cell provided with a commercial water electrolysis MEA and titanium grooved plates has been designed for continuous operation at pressures close to the ambient level. The MEA consisted of a Nafion 117 membrane sandwiched between a Pt/C cathode and a non-supported Pt-Ir anode. Oxygen partial consumption in long-term runs was evaluated by analysis of the outlet air by gas chromatography, depending on the cell voltage - or the current density - and the excess in air oxygen fed to the cathode. Runs over more 50 hours indicated the relative stability of the components used for current densities ranging from 0.1 to 0.2 A cm-2 with high efficiency of oxygen reduction. Higher current density could be envisaged with more efficient MEA’s, exhibiting lower overpotentials for oxygen evolution to avoid too significant degradation of the anode material and the membrane. Interpretation of the data has been carried out by calculation of the cathode current efficiency.
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