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New Resin Systems for Advanced Graphite Composite Fuel Cell Bipolar Plates

21 April 2009

Two new resin systems from Huntsman Advanced Materials have been developed to meet the stringent requirements for graphite composite fuel cells.

Philippe Christou, Technology Director EMEIA Huntsman Advanced Materials said: “Every major automotive, stationary power and back-up power manufacturer in the world is considering how best to utilise fuel cell technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the reliance on fossil fuels, making the fuel cell component market a potential boom market. Working with our partners this is a technology breakthrough that represents major long term opportunities.”

Since the conversion of fuel to energy takes place via an electrochemical process, the process is much cleaner, quieter and up to three times more efficient than burning fuel. The fuel cell’s bipolar plates are said to have superior corrosion resistance, lower contact resistance, higher thermal conductivity and a longer operating life at higher temperatures.

For the automotive sector Huntsman Advanced Materials has developed a benzoxazine resin suitable for high temperature PEM fuel cells. The resin which operates at a continuous temperature of 120degC has a phenolic-like backbone which gives it very good flame retardant properties together with excellent glass transition temperatures and mechanical properties. In particular Huntsman say that there is a very high modulus, low water absorption and near zero shrinkage as well as good electrical properties.

For stationary power and back-up power applications, a bismaleimide resin has been developed for fuel cells operating at temperatures of up to 180degC in concentrated phosphoric acid. The resin is flame resistant and provides the fuel cells with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, a low ionic content and can be applied in continuous high volume manufacturing processes using conventional prepregging techniques.

The resins have been developed in conjunction with GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and forms part of a U.S. Department of Energy sponsored program. The cells have already undergone extensive testing and are expected to be available commercially in late 2009 / early 2010.





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