A French start-up developed an innovative process to manufacture composite fuel cell bipolar plates thinner, lighter and more resilient than any other available materials. It relies on a flexible composite thermocompression process, the parameters of which can be adjusted according to the final application. Technical cooperation is sought with fuel cells, electrolysers and redox batteries manufacturers. H2020/Europe research agreement is also sought to further improve the technology.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) is a key technology in the ongoing energy transition as Hydrogen FCs have the ability to considerably reduce our greenhouse gas. However, current systems suffer from a major problem: their lifespan. This is directly linked to a key component: the bipolar plates (75% of the weight and 30% of the cost in case of a FC). If the current durability remains sufficient for the automobile (~ 5000h), it does not cope with the need for numerous emerging applications, in particular those of heavy mobility (trucks, buses, aeronautics, rail, sea freight). The French company has developed an innovative manufacturing process that allows to increase the lifespan of current fuel cells (x4) and reduce their weight (between -50% and -90%), without compromising the total size of the system, at a competitive price. These properties have never been obtained simultaneously. This combination is particularly suitable for the fuel cell heavy mobility applications, but the versatility of the technology has also many advantages all over the hydrogen value chain. It is also particularly suitable for usages such as electrolysers (bipolar plates or electrodes) and redox flow batteries, where the durability of the current materials is affected by chemical environment. TRL 4 has been reached. TRL 5 should be achieved by the end of 2020. The manufacturing uses a thermocompression process of carbon composite material. Key manufacturing parameters have been optimized in order to increase the through plane electrical conductivity, minimize the gas permeability while keeping the material mechanical strength and fulfil the final application requirements. The technology is flexible, which allows various optimization depending of the final application. The electrical conductivity can be optimized in a given direction (in-plane, through plane etc…). The polymer can be chosen so the component is durable in the chemistry of the final application. The French company is looking for technical cooperation with fuel cells, electrolysers and/or redox flow batteries manufacturers to integrate its technology into their products. The company is also open to research agreements (Horizon 2020, and future research programmes Horizon Europe) with industries and academics to improve further its technology. The objective is to solve the latest technological obstacles linked to the implementation of this technology, and to initiate its industrialization.
Type (e.g. company, R&D institution…), field of industry and Role of Partner Sought:
Partners sought: fuel cells, electrolysers and redox flow batteries manufacturers. Partners will provide their expertise in order to integrate the technology into their products or to create a POC (Proof Of Concept) in the frame of a technical cooperation. For research cooperations, partners willing to further develop the technology are sought.
Stage of Development:
Available for demonstration
Comments Regarding Stage of Development:
Several proofs of concepts have been established and laboratory testing have been performed to validate ex-situ bipolar plates' main characteristics (electrical conductivity, mechanical performance, hydrogen permeability, durability by accelerated ageing test) for both LT-PEMFC (Low-Temperature PEMFC) and HT-PEMFC (High-Temperature PEMFC). Single-cell FC have been successfully integrated and in-situ testing has begun. No degradation has been observed in highly corrosive redox (reduction-oxydation) flow batteries environment. A process to assemble two bipolar plates for the fuel cell industry is ongoing.
Secret Know-how,Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
Comments Regarding IPR Status:
Patent applied on May 2020