Hydrogen produced by proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology is a promising solution for energy storage, integration of renewables, and power grid stabilization for a cross-sectoral green energy chain. The most expensive components of the PEM electrolyzer stack are the bipolar plates (BPPs) and porous transport layers (PTLs), depending on the design. The high cost is due to the fact that the employed materials need to withstand corrosion at 2 V in acidic environment. Currently, only titanium is the material of choice for the anode side. We use vacuum plasma spraying (VPS) technology to apply highly stable coatings of titanium and niobium to protect stainless steel BPPs from the oxidative conditions on the anode side. The latter is able to decrease the interfacial contact resistance and improves the long-term stability of the electrolyzer. Furthermore, porous transport layers (PTL) can be realized by VPS as well. These coatings can be produced on existing titanium current collectors acting as macro porous layers (MPL). Lastly, free standing multifunctional structures with optimized tortuosity, capillary pressure and gradient porosity are used as current collectors. The coatings and porous structures developed by VPS enable the reduction of the required material and costs without performance losses.
Part of the book: New Technologies in Protective Coatings