Take 5: An interview with… Martin Thompson, Managing Director at Technical Fibre Products

Thanks for giving H2 View your time. Tell us a little about TFP and its involvement with the hydrogen markets…

TFP makes advanced non-woven materials for a range of sectors; advanced composites (aerospace and wind energy), fuel cells, thermal insulation and fire protection. We are able to offer an unusually wide range of fibre options for our products, including carbon, glass, aramid, polyester, metal-coated carbon and thermoplastics. The non-woven materials we make are exceptionally even and we make and sell carbon veils as low as 2g\m².
Gas Diffusion Layers (GDL) are used as the cathode and anode in a fuel cell. Our carbon fibre non-wovens are widely used as GDL substrates, which means we are right at the heart of the fuel cell. This application of our material is very technically demanding in terms of electrical and thermal conductivity, durability and chemical resistance. The product must also have a very even and consistent surface to allow an optimum GDL to be manufactured.

So we understand you have over 30 years of experience in developing these GDL materials – what does a typical TFP customer look like?

TFP’s GDL substrate is used in two types of fuel cell; PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) primarily for automotive\transport and PAFC (Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell) primarily for static, power generation. It’s worth noting here that we are seeing more companies looking to use PEM fuel cells for some static applications. A typical customer would be taking our GDL substrate and adding further process steps to complete the GDL. Some of our customers use the GDL themselves to build the fuel cell, while others will sell the GDL to a fuel cell producer. TFP has a significant market share in the fuel cell sector. Currently, most of our business is in the US, Europe and South Korea.

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