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Research Papers

Investigation of Elastomer Graphite Composite Material for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Bipolar Plate

[+] Author and Article Information
Elaine Petrach, Ismat Abu-Isa

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309

Xia Wang1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309wang@oakland.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(3), 031005 (May 12, 2009) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3005580 History: Received June 16, 2007; Revised December 01, 2007; Published May 12, 2009

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.

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Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 4

Comparison of vol % silicone/graphite DKD filler composition microscopy images. (a) 75/25, (b) 70/30, and (c) 65/35.

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Figure 5

Comparison of vol % santoprene/graphite DKD filler composition microscopy images. (a) 75/25, (b) 70/30, and (c) 65/35.

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Figure 6

Electrical resistivity versus conductive filler concentration for silicone mixed filler composites shown in Table 4

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Figure 7

Melt index of thermoplastic elastomer (Santoprene) composites as a function of vol % of graphite DKD collected for 5min at 190°C and at a load of 10.66kg

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Figure 8

Stress/strain behavior of silicone rubber matrix during stress loading/unloading cycle

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Figure 9

Stress/strain cycle of a composite containing 60∕40 (by volume) silicone rubber matrix/graphite fiber composite during stress loading and unloading cycle

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Figure 3

Santoprene resistivity as a function of vol % of graphite DKD

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Figure 2

Silicone resistivity as a function of vol % of graphite DKD

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Figure 1

Experimental schematic of the four-point probe resistivity setup (20)

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