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Stability of planar PEMFC in printed circuit board technology

: Schmitz, A.; Wagner, S.; Hahn, R.; Uzun, H.; Hebling, C.


Journal of power sources 127 (2004), Nr.1-2, S.197-205
ISSN: 0378-7753
Fraunhofer IZM ()
Fraunhofer ISE ()

The use of planar PEMFCs in printed circuit board (PCB) technology with a thickness of less than 3.5 mm are presented. This planar design consists of an open cathode side which allows a completely passive, self-breathing operation of the fuel cell. Power densities of 100 mW/cm2 at 500 mV with hydrogen as a fuel were achieved. A steady operation with this type of fuel cell was demonstrated over a week without any cell flooding. Since the electrical conducting elements of PCBs usually are made of copper, corrosion in the wet environment of a PEMFC is expected. Thus, a significant degradation in performance of fuel cells made of plain copper PCBs was seen in long-term operation. In order to avoid corrosion, the copper layer has to be coated. Fuel cells in PCB design with diverse coatings were tested in long-term operations up to 1000 h under load. Moreover, corrosion currents have been determined by the use of potentiodynamic scans. Promising coatings are electroplated Cr and Ni and a combination of Ni/Au.