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Advanced materials for the manufacturing of bipolar separators for ion conducting polymer fuels cells

Grant number: 97/07401-6
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: January 01, 1998 - December 31, 2000
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering
Principal Investigator:Antonio Cesar Ferreira
Grantee:Antonio Cesar Ferreira
Company:Unitech Projetos Pesquisas Desenvolvimento Consultoria Comércio Ltda
City: Cajobi

Abstract

The project’s object is to develop bipolar separators using carbon fibers for ion conducting polymer fuels cells and phosphoric acid. Fuel cells are thermodynamically efficient energy converters and do not cause pollution. The material traditionally used has been a special type of graphite specifically for use in fuel cells. With the technological progress in fuel cell components, such as ion conducting electrodes and polymers, however, the graphite separators have come to be one of the main bottlenecks in building cell prototypes. To achieve high power density, more compact cell prototypes need to be built, but the reduction in the thickness of the graphite makes them very fragile. This project is designed to find a new concept for manufacturing bipolar separators using carbon fiber. In the first stage we will use two production processes. In one of them, the separators will be manufactured from a mixture of carbon fiber, phenolic resin, and carbon powder deriving from oil, with subsequent high-temperature sintering to convert the resin into graphite. In the other process, the bipolar separators will be manufactured on the basis of mixtures of carbon fiber, polymers, and carbon powder, with subsequent hot rolling to form sheets. In phase 2, a 2 kW-prototype will be built using the new concept of the separators developed in this project. (AU)