The bipolar plate is an important and integral part of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and PEM fuel cell stacks. Currently bipolar plates represent more than 80% by weight and 40% by cost of the fuel cell stack. Traditional materials used for bipolar plates are primarily graphite and metal. Search for alternative materials to improve weight and cost considerations is needed. This paper discusses the results of an investigation of two elastomeric materials being developed for bipolar plate applications. Perceived advantages of the use of elastomers for this application include improved sealability without additional gasket material, reduction in the contact resistance between individual cells, improved formability, and weight reduction. The first elastomer investigated is a two component liquid silicone rubber, and the second is a polyolefin thermoplastic elastomer. These polymer matrix materials are made electrically conductive by the addition of conductive fillers including thermal graphite fibers (Cytec DKD & CKD), high surface area conductive carbon black nanoparticles (Cabot Black Pearls 2000), and graphite flakes (Asbury 4012). Electrical conductivity, processability, and elastic behavior measurements of the composites have been conducted. Some of silicone-graphite fiber composites material exhibit conductivity values comparable to those of the traditional graphite plate materials. Elasticity of all composites is maintained even at high filler concentrations.
Investigation of Elastomer Graphite Composite Material for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Bipolar Plate
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Petrach, E., Abu-Isa, I., and Wang, X. (May 12, 2009). "Investigation of Elastomer Graphite Composite Material for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Bipolar Plate." ASME. J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol. August 2009; 6(3): 031005. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.3005580
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