Low-Cost and Durable Bipolar Plates for Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolyzers

TitleLow-Cost and Durable Bipolar Plates for Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolyzers
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsLettenmeier P., Wang R., Abouatallah R., Saruhan B., Freitag O., Gazdzicki P., Morawietz T., Hiesgen R., Gago A.S, Friedrich K.A
JournalScientific Reports

Cost reduction and high efficiency are the mayor challenges for sustainable H2 production via proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis. Titanium-based components such as bipolar plates (BPP) have the largest contribution to the capital cost. This work proposes the use of stainless steel BPPs coated with Nb and Ti by magnetron sputtering physical vapor deposition (PVD) and vacuum plasma spraying (VPS), respectively. The physical properties of the coatings are thoroughly characterized by scanning electron, atomic force microscopies (SEM, AFM); and X-ray diffraction, photoelectron spectroscopies (XRD, XPS). The Ti coating (50 μm) protects the stainless steel substrate against corrosion, while a 50-fold thinner layer of Nb decreases the contact resistance by almost one order of magnitude. The Nb/Ti-coated stainless steel bipolar BPPs endure the harsh environment of the anode for more than 1000 h of operation under nominal conditions, showing a potential use in PEM electrolyzers for large-scale H2 production from renewables.


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