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Conductive polymer composites and coated metals as alternative bipolar plate materials for all-vanadium redox-flow batteries

: Caglar, B.; Richards, J.; Fischer, P.; Tuebke, J.

Advanced materials letters 5 (2014), Nr.6, S.299-308
ISSN: 0976-3961
ISSN: 0976-397X
Fraunhofer ICT ()

In this study polypropylene (PP) based conductive composites and metal doped diamond like carbon (DLC) coated metallic substrates are studied as alternative bipolar materials for all-vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB). Graphite and carbon nanotube (CNT) filled PP based bipolar plates were produced via twin-screw co-rotating extruder and injection molding. Addition of 3 wt. % CNTs into highly filled graphite-PP matrix increased in-plane and through-plane electrical conductivities from 10 S/cm to 50 S/cm and from 2 S/cm to 10 S/cm respectively. PP composites with 78 wt. % graphite and 2 wt. % CNT filling ratio showed flexural strength value of 48,01 MPa. Produced bipolar plates were examined with galvanostatic charge-discharge test in a single-cell VRFB. Energy efficiency of 85,43 % at 25 mA/cm2 and discharge power density of 78,48 mW/cm2 at 75 mA/cm2 were achieved and those values were found to be comparable with commercial bipolar plates. Titanium, vanadium, chromoium a nd tungsten doped diamond-like coating (DLC) films were coated on metallic substrates (e.g. stainless steel 1.4301 and titanium alloy 3.7165) by a physical vapor deposition. The metallic dopant is necessary to achieve high conductivities in the order of 100 S/cm. The values range from 0.5 to 35 S/cm for in-plane and from 10 to 110 S/cm for through-plane. The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the anodic corrosions stability in 2 molar sulfuric acid constituted the main focus area for our investigations on metallic bipolar plates. An interesting material for coated metallic bipolar plate is the 10 m Ti-DLC on 1.4301 which exhibits the highest hydrogen evolution overpotential of all investigated materials (710 mV A/cm2). It also showed improved corrosion stability for anodic potentials.