PEM Fuel Cell Separator with Thermally Nitrided Low Carbon Steel
The separator is one of the most important parts in PEM fuel cells. Stainless steels are widely used as separator for its good mechanical properties and mass production. However, for a good chemical compatibility, stainless steels need to have high chromium content or surface treatment, which makes separator high cost. Low cost of separator is important for commercial use. In this study, conventional low carbon steel is used as base metal of separator. Low carbon steel is low at cost, but has poor chemical properties for separator. For a good corrosion resistance, low carbon steel needs to be surface treated. To make a uniform surface treated layer on low carbon steel, chromium is conventionally electroplated on the steel and thermally nitrided. Surface treated low carbon steel is investigated using microstructure and element analysis tools. Interfacial contact resistance and polarization test is applied for the properties of fuel cell separator. The results show that chromium nitrided layer uniformly formed on low carbon steel. And the surface treated steel showed a good corrosion resistance as a separator.
Jian-Feng Nie and Allan Morton
D. G. Nam et al., "PEM Fuel Cell Separator with Thermally Nitrided Low Carbon Steel", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 654-656, pp. 1823-1825, 2010