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Thermal Sprayed Protective Coatings for Bipolar Plates of Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Water Electrolysis Cells


As one core component in hydrogen fuel cells and water electrolysis cells, bipolar plates (BPs) perform multiple important functions, such as separating the fuel and oxidant flow, providing mechanical support, conducting electricity and heat, connecting the cell units into a stack, etc. On the path toward commercialization, the manufacturing costs of bipolar plates have to be substantially reduced by adopting low-cost and easy-to-process metallic materials (e.g., stainless steel, aluminum or copper). However, these materials are susceptible to electrochemical corrosion under harsh operating conditions, resulting in long-term performance degradation. By means of advanced thermal spraying technologies, protective coatings can be prepared on bipolar plates so as to inhibit oxidation and corrosion. This paper reviews several typical thermal spraying technologies, including atmospheric plasma spraying (APS), vacuum plasma spraying (VPS) and high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) spraying for preparing coatings of bipolar plates, particularly emphasizing the effect of spraying processes on coating effectiveness. The performance of coatings relies not only on the materials as selected or designed but also on the composition and microstructure practically obtained in the spraying process. The temperature and velocity of in-flight particles have a significant impact on coating quality; therefore, precise control over these factors is demanded.

Funding source: This work was funded by Shenzhen Government’s Plan of Science and Technology (GXWD20220811164046002, 20220804193203001), National Natural Science Foundation of China (52072247, 22379098), Featured Innovation Project of Colleges and Universities of Guangdong Province (2021KTSCX365), Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (2021A1515010735), and Innovation Team Project of Guangdong Colleges and Universities (2021KCXTD006).

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