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Improvements in Conductive Polymer Boost Fuel Cell Performance; Exceed DOE Conductivity Targets for Automotive Applications

Stack with Bac2 Electrophen plates. Click to enlarge.

Bac2 Conductive Composites, a UK-based start-up fuel-cell materials company, has announced substantial conductivity improvements for its patented ElectroPhen conductive polymer. Independent tests have shown that the latest version of the thermoset material, which uses a new curing agent, demonstrates an improvement in in-plane electrical conductivity to nearly 500 siemens per centimeter.

The material now exceeds the US Department of Energy conductivity target of 200 siemens per centimeter for such materials used to make bipolar plates for fuel cell applications. The target primarily relates to fuel cells for use in automotive applications.

ElectroPhen is an electrically conductive polymer and polymer composite that can be formed at room temperature. Other plastics are electrically insulating but the base polymer of ElectroPhen is unique because conducting pathways are produced in-situ during the polymerization reaction. The resulting conductivity can be further enhanced by adding conductive fillers to produce ElectroPhen polymer composites.

Bipolar plates and end plates make up to 70% of the weight and 30% of the cost of a typical Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell stack. Making them from ElectroPhen would deliver substantial cost savings without compromising performance.

ElectroPhen’s raw state conductivity is in the order of 109 more conductive than commonly used resin binders, which means that no post-processing, such as extreme temperature or surface machining, are required. This makes ElectroPhen plates easy and economical to produce in the high volumes anticipated for full-scale deployment of fuel cells.

Furthermore, the ratio of ElectroPhen to graphite resin makes for a tougher plate and further modification with plasticizers, reinforcers, and conductive fillers enable the composition to be fine-tuned for specific applications and customer requirements.

Other physical characteristics of ElectroPhen are its thermal stability, resilience to temperature and inertness towards fuel cell catalysts and membranes. This means that fuel cell stack manufacturers can safely explore the use of more economical MEA (membrane-electrode assembly) materials that may yield greater efficiency with higher temperatures at the reaction surface.

In May 2006, Bac2 secured £500,000 (US$966,000) of seed funding in a round led by London Seed Capital in conjunction with the London Business Angel Network and the newly raised LBA EIS Tracker Fund III. Further angel investors were introduced to Bac2 by South East Capital Alliance (SECA), managed by Finance South East, Wessex Ventures, James Cowper Chartered Accountants and the University of Southampton Alumni Fund.

This investment money was in addition to DTI grant funding of £240,000 (US$463,000) awarded to a six member consortium, lead by Bac2, to optimize the ElectroPhen material for use in fuel cell components.



Sounds like good news!! Can anyone state in layman terms what this means -- exceeding the target of 200 siemens by 300 siemems or ending up with a total of 500 siemens per centimeter -- I mean, I know it's good to exceed your goals by 2.5 times, but what does it mean? What is a siemens per centimeter?


I think it just means they've developed a polymer with lower resistance, S = 1/ohm or something like that, which results in higher efficiency.


Mike: I'm getting a little tripped up by TLAs. Specifically "PEM". I've heard of Proton Exchange Membranes and Polymer Electrolyte Membranes. Are there in fact two kinds of PEMs?


And, how many sea men can dance on the head of a pin?

Bob Bastard

R, correct, Siemens are a measure of conductivity, which is the inverse of resistivity.


Until the plates are slapped into a cell and tested we realy dont know what the high conductivity realy will result in efficentcy wise. It SOULD make for a good boost tho.

Harvey D.

Could this technology be applied to improve Lithium Polymer batteries?


"Siemens" moreover than an old scientist is a unit of conductance, like "ohm" is for resistance.You can measure the resistance or conductance of a resistor, a copper wire, an iron wire or everything and all of them could be the same.
Siemens per centimeter is a unit of conductivity as it says in the article, is a characteristic of the material itself without regarding of the shape.
The goal is the reduce of ohmmic looses in the cell, I suppose.


Sounds like the Siemens is the new name for the Mho, like Hertz took over from Cycle-per-second?


Yes, Siemens= mho.

Nick Grosswendt


The better membrane for fuel cells looks to me to be the 2nd half of the equation. The other half is the better electrode developed a Lawrence – Livermore

When the Hydrogen Initiative popped up a few years ago, the electric vehicle community felt that it was a boondoggle or a smoke screen to let the auto mfg. skate a few more years before the had to give us some decent alternative vehicles.

However, the rise in the price of oil to $80 seems to have given the entire
Alt-Energy sector a rocket assist. A lot of stuff may be closer than we think.

See also: "Clean Cars Elude U.S. Buyers" from Wired online.


All of the data is impressive, I would like to know, What is the Half-life of the stack in solution??

Can we get that parameter


All of the data is impressive, I would like to know, What is the Half-life of the stack in solution??

Can we get that parameter

Cheryl Ho

THere are developments in DME in CHina today:
Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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