Laser Based Rapid Manufacturing of Metallic Gas Diffusion Layers for PEM Fuel Cells

Tandra, Gargi
Sparks, Todd Eugene
Barua, Shyam
Kulkarni, Nikhil P.
Liou, Frank
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University of Texas at Austin

Gas Diffusion layers (GDL’s) are an essential component of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel cells (PEMFC’s) which aid in thermal & electrical conductivities, water management and act as backup layers for the membrane electrode assemblies. This paper summarizes the effort to prototype metallic GDL designs using a miniature laser deposition system developed at Missouri University of Science & Technology. The pore sizes are controlled by masking the diverging laser beam using stainless steel masks of varying sizes and shapes. The through pore feature and further treatment of the GDL’s for hydrophobicity reduces the water management issue and thereby increases the performance of the fuel cells. The operational characteristics of the GDL can be optimized by understanding the effect of the key parameters like fluid permeability, porosity, hydrophobicity and the surface morphology.