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Bipolar Plate Materials for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Application

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 1 ]


Rajeev K. Gautam, Soma Banerjee and Kamal K. Kar   Pages 15 - 45 ( 31 )


Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell receives special attention as an alternative power device for various industrial applications because of its excellent energy conversion efficiency, high power density, low operating temperature, convenient fuel supply, longer life time and low emission. The prospective commercial applications of PEM fuel cell comprise laptop, computers, cellular phones, military back power packs, scooters, cars, etc. However, the high production cost and long term durability hinder the commercialization of PEM fuel cell. Bipolar plate is the essential constituent of PEM fuel cell, as it contributes to 80% of weight and 40% of total cost in a PEM fuel cell. Also, it facilitates many important functions; such as: supplies reactant gases at anode and cathode, connects individual cells electrically to form cell stack, and removes the unwanted products away from the cell. Hence, widespread commercialization of PEM fuel cell technology is highly dependent on the performance and cost of the bipolar plates. Primarily, bipolar plates are fabricated using graphite and metallic materials. But, weak mechanical properties of high density graphite and corrosive nature of metals makes these materials highly unsuitable to be used as bipolar plate in PEM fuel cell. However, new class of materials, such as: coated metals and carbon/ polymer composites have received special attention due to their low fabrication cost, light weight and chemical stability. The bipolar plate materials must satisfy the target values set by the Department of Energy (DOE) of the United States. In this review, article several patents and research articles on various kinds of bipolar plate materials for PEM fuel cell application are discussed in detail.


Bipolar plates, carbon fillers, composites, DOE targets, PEM fuel cell, polymer matrix.


Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur-208016, India.

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