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NovCoat consortium develops novel low-cost conductive coatings for PEM fuel cells

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a UK-based technology innovation center, Intelligent Energy and coatings supplier Haydale have been collaborating to develop novel, conductive coatings for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell bipolar plates with the goal of further cost reductions.

Intelligent Energy is leading this project in collaboration with CPI and the advanced coatings supplier Haydale to develop new conductive coatings containing nanocarbons to replace the more traditional physical vapor deposition (PVD) methods.

Conventional metallic PEM fuel cell bipolar plates usually require the application of an electrically conductive coating to minimize resistive losses. Such coatings are presently applied either in a batch or continuous process usually using a variety of highly technical processes including thermal spraying, CVD and, most often, PVD.

These approaches incur considerable cost; through labor associated with chamber loading and unloading, the process times required to achieve high vacuum, or through the capital investment required for continuous vacuum processing.

The 12-month NovCoat project has evaluated the technical feasibility and cost-saving opportunities of using low-cost, wet-coatings applied by high-throughput, ambient processes to replace PVD methods.

The project has developed advanced coatings utilizing functionalized nanocarbons (graphene and/or carbon nanotubes) as the primary electrically conducting component to improve z plane conductivity in line with US DOE automotive targets. These coatings were applied using roll-to-roll techniques to pre-coat low cost stainless steel foils, and post-coat after part fabrication. The electrical and physical properties of the resultant coating have now been evaluated.

The NovCoat project has successfully demonstrated the fabrication of nanocarbon coatings on stainless steel with performance similar to PVD coatings, and the feasibility of ambient, solution based roll-to-roll processes which will help drive output levels and permit major cost reduction.

This highly innovative project has both technical and commercial elements that are beyond state of the art. The commercial partners are exciting, high growth potential companies and have demonstrated functionalization, dispersion, formulation and coating capabilities to deliver the project effectively.

—Dr Steve Devine, Principal Scientist - Nanomaterials & Composites at CPI



Good work.


It is becoming obvious that:

1) future mass produced FCs will cost/weight a lot less and be more performant than current models.

2) future mass produced electrolysers (and clean H2) will also cost/weight less and be a lot more performant than current models.

3) future mass produced FCEVs will cost/weight a lot less and be more performant, with all weather range of up to 800+ Km.

4) the new H2 generation has arrived.


We could see on site electrolysis with renewable energy contracts and oxygen pick up. It could come down to below $5 per kg as well.


Solar panels and wind produce electricity that is intermittent in nature; battery storage and pumped hydro is used to buffer the outputs; but, what do you do when you produce surplus amounts and fill up the batteries? One solution is to produce hydrogen and oxygen and store these. In the far future these gases can be used in controlled combustion devices for transportation...ships, airplanes, hyperloops and...space ships. No fossil fuels needed


If/when the world switch resources currently use for ICEVs to batteries/chargers and FCs/Electrolysers we could be driving clean running vehicles by 2030 or so?


2025-2030 seems like a reasonable time frame given the current state of things. 2025 should be about the time that plugins will be moving the goal posts.

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