Advanced Optical Verification of Bipolar Plates

Supersurf Project video link
Fuel cells are a promising technology for alternative energy supply of mobile and stationary applications. They are able to generate current and heat by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. No green-house gases are produced which makes fuel cells a nature friendly future technology. Because of their high system-complexity, small changes in materials, manufacturing processes or assembly can lead to significant changes in performance and lifetime. They consist of components which have to withdraw the unsteady corrosive environment but still offer high electric conductivity and catalytic activity. Moreover, the components need to exhibit long lifetime and low costs. Hence, the need for accurate quality control concepts is of high importance for securing reliable products and for economic production of high values.

Advanced optical BPP verification at Nedstack

Today, most characterization techniques are cost-intensive and time consuming. In R&D electrochemical, potentiostatic or galvanostatic measurements are done which usually give information about just a small area of the fuel cell component. Inspection of a single cell within a stack or the whole fuel cell stack is very time consuming. However, regarding fuel cell mass production there is not enough time for a 100 % in-line inspection of all bipolar plates.

Optical 2-D and 3-D measurement technologies have the potential to offer high speed measurements with high accuracy characterization. But the correlations between optical surface parameters (accuracy geometry, defects etc.) and the performance of the individual components respectively their impact on the performance of the whole fuel cell system is not understood / correlated sufficiently, so that they can be applied for quality inspection in fuel cell production.

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