Bipolar plates are essential components of fuel cells. At the moment, graphite-based bipolar plates are used. Even though graphite has good electrical properties, it has also distinct disadvantages: the material is thick, expensive to produce and sensitive to vibration.
These technological challenges, apart from some other political reasons, still hinder the breakthrough of the ecologically sensible fuel cell technology as an energy source for instance in the automotive industry. But is for this particular industry that low-temperature fuel cell offer a great potential to ensure the mobility of tomorrow.
Stainless steel bipolar plates could be an alternative. They are not sensitive to vibration, intrinsically absolutely gas-tight, are affordable to produce and are much thinner than their graphite counterparts. However, it is very challenging to achieve physical and chemical properties that are comparable to those of graphite bipolar plates. The obvious solution would be a gold coating, but that would ruin the cost advantage.
THE ANSWER IS: AMORPHOUS CARBON!
VON ARDENNE has succeeded in depositing a carbon coating on stainless steel bipolar plates using physical vapor deposition (PVD). The carbon coating had similar properties to a gold coating with regards to its interfacial contact resistance (ICR), adherence and corrosion resistance.
Let us make the most of the potential that fuel cells offer!
We will support you from the research and development phase to establishing an industrial coating solution. You can rely on our committed staff and our expertise in PVD technology and in engineering coating equipment that we have built over decades.