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New Method to Fabricate Fuel Cell Separators Could Reduce Fuel Cell Cost by 83%

Nikkei. Researchers at the University of Hyogo (Japan) have developed a way to fabricate separators for fuel cells at a fraction of the usual cost, with the potential to reduce the cost of the fuel cell unit by 83%.

These separators are now made from resin materials and cost upwards of 5,000 yen apiece for the 10cm-square shapes used in car fuel cells. Since the typical fuel cell stack designed for cars uses some 1,000 separators, this part alone accounts for some 90% of the nearly 6 million yen [US$56,000] cost of the fuel cell unit.

In the new fabrication process, the separator is made by placing a sheet of stainless steel in a vacuum chamber, adding acetylene and other gases and baking to yield a thin layer of carbon.

By contrast, separators made by the new process would cost less than ¥200 apiece in mass production, and would reduce the cost of the fuel cell unit to around ¥1 million (US$9,300) for a car.

The group plans to look for a private-sector partner to develop mass production technology for the process.


gary owen

great news. anything that brings the cost of fuel cells closer to economic viability has to be a good thing.


Yes, I agree and I wonder what a Ballard fuel cell unit powerful enough for a real production passenger car cost? Since they claim a fuel cell unit for a car made with this far cheaper material cost $9300.


Most of the FC cars like the Equinox fuels cell SUV are said to be million dollar cars. They made only 100 of them and still real expensive. The next questions are longevity, reliability and efficiency. I hope this does bring the cost down and bring the other factors up.

Valdemar Stelita

Such a breakthrough on manufacturing cost usually comes together with huge production plant scale. Does anyone have any news on how much one must run a bipolar plate to perform such an impact on costing, even with this new process ?.


very good news - but I thought the use of costly platinum was the cost block (apart from the avoidable one of hydrogen transport and delivery). From the article I find it hard to understand the process - stainless steel sheets that collect a coating of carbon? I have every respect for the diligence of Japanese researchers. Japan produces the best development engineers in the world - and good production engineers with great quality control from the first to last on a production line. For originality, other countries may be ahead with conceiving a new idea or approach.

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