As the world continues to adapt to powering its vehicles, towns and cities with zero-carbon energy, the demand for new technologies is gathering pace. Here in this article, we look at how the current design and manufacturing process for bipolar plates, a component used in electrolysers that produce and store green hydrogen, could be made faster and more cost-effectively using chemical etching technology.
Electrolysers use electrical energy from wind, solar or hydroelectric sources to break water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. The green hydrogen produced can be used to power anything from buses and cars, to generators, heating systems and machinery.
Many modern low-temperature electrolyser systems are built with modules (‘stacks’) based on proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology. And a crucial component of the PEM electrolyser is the bipolar plate, which has several important functions.
Bipolar plates have precisely manufactured, often complex channels that evenly distribute water in the electrolyser stack. Their core functions are for cooling the electrolyser, supplying reactant gases to the anodic sides, and evacuating the hydrogen and gases produced during the reaction. Though bipolar plates are one of the most important electrolyser components, they are also considered one of the most costly. Photochemical etching, however, can provide a viable manufacturing alternative for those mechanical design engineers looking to reduce these costs.
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