Technical Briefs

Design and Development of a Sheet Metal Plastic Backed Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Shashank Sharma

Department of Production and Industrial Engineering,  Delhi Technological University, New Delhi, 110042 Indiashashboy@gmail.com

Mayank Gupta, Shaswat Anand, Naveen Kumar

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  Delhi Technological University, New Delhi, 110042, India

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 8(5), 054501 (Jun 17, 2011) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003772 History: Revised February 08, 2011; Received February 27, 2011; Published June 17, 2011; Online June 17, 2011

The high costs associated with fuel cell manufacturing have precluded its production on a large scale. The major emphasis of the present wok is to bring down the overall cost of an independent fuel cell unit. The manufacturing cost can be reduced using commonly available and corrosion resistant materials into the fuel cell assembly. Bipolar plates usually employed in proton exchange membrane fuel cells are fabricated from conducting graphite. Graphite owing to its conductivity, corrosion resistance and easy machinability, is the preferred material in static systems. However, due to its brittle characteristics and failure under bending loads, graphite is inferior in its mechanical properties as compared to metals and their alloys. Dimensional stability is also compromised due to wear and friction. In the present work, an attempt is made to assemble a fuel cell stack which would have durability and sustainability in dynamic conditions, where the setup would be able to withstand periodic shocks, vibrations, and fatigue loads. Instead of employing graphite as the bipolar plate which serves the dual purpose of a current collector and area for flow fields, graphite foil protected aluminum as the current collector and machined plastic slabs on which the flow fields are carved, have been employed. Both the substitutes are easily available owing to mass production and have a small processing cost associated with them. Further, the technique employed for processing of Nafion and hot pressing of the catalyst loaded gas diffusion layer onto the proton exchange membrane have been elaborated in the present paper along with the systematic approach followed by the research group eliminating various current collector candidates for fuel cell applications. The various stages attained towards the final fabrication of the foil protected lightweight current collector, has also been highlighted in the present work.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 2

Anodized aluminum plate

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Figure 3

Hot water bath treatment

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Figure 4

Peroxide bath on left hydrogen bath on right of raw Nafion membranes

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Figure 5

Final fuel cell assembly

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Figure 6

Hydrogen flow field plates

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Figure 7

Oxygen flow field plate

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Figure 8

Improper bonding of GDL with Nafion

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Figure 9

GDLs misaligned during hot-pressing process

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Figure 10

Five MEAs with GDLs having sufficient bonding strength with Nafion



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