atomic number for hydrogen in water droplet on the earth with green blurred background

4 Ways PTFE-Based Films Improve Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Electrolyzer Performance

4 Ways PTFE Films Improve Hydrogen Fuel Cells & Electrolyzers

The environmental benefits of hydrogen make it an obvious candidate for fuel cell and hydrogen electrolyzer development over the coming decades as the world grapples with climate change and clean energy target achievement. Next month’s Hydrogen Technology Expo North America will showcase the latest innovation driving the technology’s progress.

The use of hydrogen in fuel cells has huge associated positives, namely, its abundance as a non-intermittent, clean, renewable source of energy, its superior energy efficiency, and reduced emissions, to name but some. However, its upfront costs are one of the chief obstacles to advancing the technology.

 Reducing the Cost Factor in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Efficiency

One way to drive down costs is to focus on investment in the design supporting fuel cell infrastructure. Take, for example, innovation around frame gaskets. 
Composite films are designed to provide effective insulation while exhibiting properties such as high-temperature resistance, chemical stability, and long-term durability.

These properties are essential in addressing challenges such as gas crossover, water management, and seal degradation. One such composite film uses PTFE, a fluoropolymer material, which has several properties enabling improved performance.

Composite PTFE films’ combination of chemical resistance, low friction, hydrophobicity, and electrical insulation has made them a valuable material in fuel cell and electrolyzer design, contributing to gains in efficiency and durability. 

fuel cell decal production diagram
Our films can be used as a substrate/carrier during the Decal Transfer Method.
fuel cell plate protection diagram
Gaskets made out of VERSIV films can be used to protect graphite Bi-polar plates in fuel cells.

4 Ways PTFE Films Improve Hydrogen Fuel Cells

VERSIV monolayer films are one such high performer, enhancing the performance of fuel cells, irrespective of the most stressful and challenging conditions, including working at high pressures and temperatures of up to 300˚C (572˚F) and in harsh chemical environments such as KOH and phosphoric acids. By helping to maximize fuel cell performance and longevity, these solutions contribute to their wider usage, both as components and as process aids. The properties of these PTFE-based films can continue to influence how hydrogen fuel cells work. Here are four ways in which this material improves performance:

•    High chemical resistance: PTFE-coated films are highly resistant to chemicals, making them ideal for use in the harsh chemical environment of hydrogen fuel cells and electrolyzers. It can withstand exposure to aggressive chemicals, such as strong acids and bases commonly used in fuel cells and electrolyzers.
•    Low permeability to gases: These films have extremely low permeability to gases, including hydrogen, a critical component in fuel cells and electrolyzers. This property ensures that hydrogen gas is contained within the cell and does not leak out, which is essential for the safe and efficient operation of the application.
•    Excellent electrical insulation: VERSIV films are an excellent electrical insulator, vital in hydrogen applications where electrical current must be conducted through the fuel cell or electrolyzer without shorting out. These fluoropolymer-based films can be used as separators between the cell layers, preventing electrical contact between the anode and cathode.
•    High-temperature resistance: These films have excellent high-temperature resistance, essential in such applications where high temperatures are generated during operation. PTFE-based films can withstand temperatures up to 260°C without degradation, ensuring long-term performance and reliability.

Frank Sonnenschein portrait

The capabilities of VERSIV 

"By using the right materials within the right temperature range and media resistance, we can help increase uptime. For instance, if our material supports an increase in running hours in alkaline electrolyzers by 10%, the overall cost of hydrogen produced significantly decreases because you get more hydrogen from the investment made...I would add that by choosing the right material for the decal transfer method, catalyst thickness can be reduced. This property ultimately leads to the higher efficiency of the cell as the right substrate will have that positive effect."

Frank Sonnenschein
Global Business Development Manager – Hydrogen

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Hydrogen Technology Expo North America

Hydrogen Technology Expo North America will showcase more advances in the development of fuel cell infrastructure next month when it opens at the NRG Center in Houston, Texas.

Attendees can look forward to hearing about various innovations throughout the entire value chain supporting low-carbon H2 production, including the latest in advanced materials, engineering solutions, infrastructure, and manufacturing equipment. Meet the team at Saint-Gobain Composite Solutions in Houston to learn more about how our film innovation informs hydrogen fuel cell efficiencies. Or read more about our solutions in our brochure Improving Performance in Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers.


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