bipolar fuel cell plates application note

fuel cell plates

bipolar fuel cell plates

The journey towards carbon neutrality with Tecan’s bipolar fuel cell plates.

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Bipolar fuel cell plates are a key element in a fuel cell (a device that converts chemical potential energy into electrical energy), by stacking precisely manufactured plates on top of each other to create a large surface area for chemical reactions to take place. The chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to create water releases electrons and warmth.

The electricity is used to power a variety of transportation vehicles such as cars and trains. Besides transportation there is also a use in generating electricity and warmth for the heating of residential buildings.

Background

Climate change is a global socio-political issue and there is urgent demand for sustainable energy solutions. As the most abundant element in the universe, industry is turning towards harnessing hydrogen in order to power transport and store excess energy produced by wind and solar. Despite being employed as early as the first NASA space missions, little development of the technology was made until renewables appeared at the top of the political agenda. Hydrogen -and so, fuel plates – are the missing link in solving storage of energy without polluting the planet.

Current situation

As demand for green solutions to replace fossil fuels evolves, so does the race to drive up production efficiencies. Cost and material choices of bipolar plates have long been the bottlenecks for further development and application of hydrogen fuel cells, as bipolar plates represent the 2nd largest portion of cost in a fuel cell stack.

As the technology matures, manufacturers are exploring which systems offer the most efficiency in terms of performance and costs. Increasingly, partnerships are being formed to pool expertise and develop comprehensive fuel plate solutions. Vigorous efforts have been made to evaluate different materials and manufacturing processes in order to meet the demanding expectations for the fuel plates.

These are exciting times for realising the potential of fuel plates in manufacturing. Quality and precision are vital. The requirement for high precision fuel plates, the ability to deliver high quantities in high quality to a complex design while constantly pushing technology limits all create ongoing challenges.

Our fuel plate solutions

Our unparalleled technology capabilities enable us to provide the sustainability and renewables industry with the highest quality, high precision metallic fuel plates which are cost-efficient to produce and which feature superior properties.

When made using traditional methods, fuel plate solutions lack structural integrity, have low power output, thick bulky plates, high manufacturing cost and are vulnerable to rust. Bipolar fuel plates manufactured using chemical etching (also known as acid etching) meets the challenge to produce high precision and stress-free parts.

As a high precision fuel cell manufacturer, we offer a wide range of materials and plating as well as complex design options. Chemical etching allows us to use a large variety of materials and by using double sided etching we can maximise material surface area.

Technical Specifications

• Materials: Stainless Steel, Nickel, Aluminium, various metal possible upon request

• coatings, (Titanium, nickel, PVD coating, various coatings available upon request)

• Tolerance: ±10% x material thickness*.

• positional tolerance up to +/-25 um,

• Fine pitch: 1:1 ratio slot to land – in some instances even lower

• Positional tolerance: 25µm true position for aligning holes subject to design, material thickness, etc.

Key benefits:

• fast prototyping, low tooling cost,

• cost-efficient industrial manufacturing,

• higher electrical and thermal conductivity,

• consistent product quality and accuracy in high volumes,

• complex design flexibility,

• edge and burr free,

• surface smoothness, flatness,

• double-sided etching to optimise surface area,

• wide range of metals and thin plate design.

Co-development

We offer a powerful and experienced co-development service to help you deliver the next generation of fuel cell plate solutions. Our expert team can work with you to explore new ways to increase energy output, realise complex designs and increase efficiency.

Typical markets served

Given the weight of the unit, operating temperature and power output, Transport -particularly automotive – is the most common application for fuel cell plates. They can be used for larger vehicles as well, such as buses, trains, aeroplanes and cargo transport ships.fuel cell