Electrically conductive polymers

Thermoplastic-based bipolar plates e.g. for batteries and fuel cells

Electrochemical storages such as batteries or energy converters such as fuel cells are key technologies for the successful implementation of the energy transition. In batteries and fuel cells, bipolar plates connect several cells in a cell stack compactly, resource-saving and with full-surface contact. Bipolar plates made from metallic materials can be manufactured very thinly, but their high specific weight and low corrosion resistance are disadvantages. Polymer-based bipolar plates as a corrosion-free alternative previously had the disadvantage that they had extremely high material thicknesses, had to be machined or, depending on the material, could not be subsequently formed. Thermoplastic-based bipolar plates, on the other hand, offer significant advantages: In addition to being corrosion-free, they are characterized by a low material thickness and the ability to be subsequently formed and embossed.

Solutions and services of Fraunhofer UMSICHT

We develop thermally and electrically conductive polymer compounds that can be processed into thermoplastic-based bipolar plates with different filler contents. Depending on the filler content of electrically conductive additives, these can be used in a variety of technical applications: in electrochemical storages (batteries), in energy converters (fuel cells), in chemical-resistant heat exchangers or as resistance heating elements. The realization of low material thicknesses, as well as the continuous production method, enables a cost-effective and resource-saving production of electrically conductive polymer plates or films.

Unique selling points

With our bipolar plate material, we offer a thermally and electrically conductive polymer-based compound that is produced cost-efficiently in continuous roll-to-roll production. Thanks to this new manufacturing process, bipolar plates can be produced in low material thicknesses while saving materials and resources. Our bipolar plates are highly electrically conductive, flexible, mechanically stable, gas-tight, and chemically resistant, formable and weldable. In addition to the free choice of conductive additives, other low-temperature and especially high-temperature thermoplastics can be used. This extends the scope for electrically conductive polymers.

How you can work with us

It is possible to collaborate with us within the framework of a publicly funded joint project and in the form of a direct commission or licensing. Just get in touch with us! Dr. Anna Grevé will be happy to advise you on how to use the electrically conductive material.

 

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Characterization of electrically conductive polymers

On the way to high-performance compound foils for electrochemical reactors and thermal applications: We offer many options thanks to modern equipment.

Our equipment and services include:

  • Electrical conductivity (in- and through-plane using four-pole measurement principle).
  • Thermal conductivity by laser flash
  • Mechanical analysis (tensile, compression and bending tests)
  • Permeability (against helium and hydrogen)
  • Leakage test (against helium)
  • Optical analysis (digital microscopes, SEM) for microstructure and cross-section investigations
  • Contact angle measurements
  • Electrochemical testing (single cell fuel cell or battery assemblies, corrosion testing)

Example applications:

  • Fuel cells
  • Electrolysis
  • Battery applications
  • Hydrogenation reactions

Redox flow batteries: A step toward the mass market

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Redox flow batteries are perfect for storing large quantities of renewable energy, but they have always been too expensive for the mass market. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have now completely redesigned the heart of a redox flow battery — the stack — and have brought about a massive reduction in material usage and costs. Their efforts have earned them the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.

Reference projects

 

BiFoilStack

Stack designs for fuel cells

The "BiFoilStack" project focuses on the development of stack designs for NT-PEM fuel cells with novel compound bipolar foils from the calendering process for the target application "commercial vehicles".

 

PolyFoleR

Compound bipolar foils for electrochemical reactors

The "PolyFoleR" project focuses on systematic map-based material development for compound bipolar foils for electrochemical reactors using membrane electrolysis and PEM fuel cells as examples.

 

KOBIBATT

New fully welded
bipolar battery

Space-saving, scalable and seal-free: Innovative, fully welded polymer-based bipolar battery for mobile and stationary applications increases energy density, avoids the risk of fire, and is cost-effective to manufacture.

 

KONTIFLEX

Mass production of graphite bipolar plates

The project researches the development of continuous production of bipolar plates using roll-to-roll processes. Within the scope of the project, the world's largest bipolar plate has already been developed and produced.