The interfacial ohmic losses between the bipolar plate and the MEA can significantly reduce the overall power output from a SPFC. For graphitic bipolar plate materials, these losses are insignificant relative to stainless steel, where the existence of a passive film on the surface greatly reduces electrical conductivity. In this paper we have evaluated different bipolar plate materials, and present long-term fuel cell data for Poco® graphite, titanium, 316 and 310 stainless steel. The properties of the passive film on the surface of 316 and 310 stainless steel are markedly different. Although both were adequately corrosion resistant in a fuel cell environment, 310 tended to produce higher fuel cell performance and like 316, no degradation was observed after 1400 h testing. Analysis of the passive film indicated that this increased performance was related to the decreased thickness of the oxide film.
bipolar plate passive film solid polymer fuel cell stainless steel