Material promises fuel cell cost breakthrough

A new material for coating fuel cell bipolar plates, Ceramic MaxPhase from Swedish company Impact Coatings, is set to change the economics for fuel cells by significantly reducing manufacturing costs.

The cost for bipolar plates is currently one of the main obstacles to widespread commercialisation of fuel cell technology. Ceramic MaxPhase provides an alternative to coating the metal bipolar plates with gold, the current method used to prevent corrosion of the plates.

Henrik Ljungcrantz, CEO at Impact Coatings, said: "We can today meet a coating cost of $5 per kW and expect to reach below the US Department of Energy 2017 target of $1 per kW, significantly ahead of time."

Ceramic MaxPhase is a corrosion-resistant, electrically conductive ceramic coating that is applied by Physical Vapor Deposition. The material has been qualified for use in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) as well as direct-methanol fuel cells (DMFC) in tests exceeding 2500 hours. The bipolar plates of stainless steel coated with Ceramic MaxPhase showed equivalent stack performance to gold plated bipolar plates during the tests.

Justin Cunningham

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