Fabrication of Electrically Conductive, Fluid Impermeable Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) Graphite Bipolar Plates by Indirect Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

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Alayavalli, Kaushik
Bourell, David L.

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Graphite bipolar plates are highly desirable due to their properties of high electrical conductivity and low weight but are associated with prohibitive machining costs arising from poor mechanical properties. Bipolar plates made by indirect Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) offer the advantages of complex part production in shorter times at lower cost. Due to the nature of the SLS process, the as-produced (green part) plates are porous and possess low electrical conductivity which can be improved by carbonizing the phenolic resin binder at high temperatures (brown part). It has been found that the electrical conductivity increases significantly (> 200 S/cm) with a corresponding increase in pyrolyzing temperature which correlates well with literature on the carbonization of phenol formaldehyde resins. The brown parts are subsequently infiltrated with low viscosity (~5 - 10 cps) cyanoacrylate to seal up the open pores, rendering the plates fluid impermeable.


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