Suitability of Low-Cost Additive Manufacturing for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

David Alexander, University of Texas at El Paso


The purpose of this dissertation is to study the feasibility of low-cost additive manufacturing to fabricate polymer electrolyte fuel cell bipolar plate materials. Traditional manufacturing techniques include molding, milling, hollow embossing, hydro-forming, rolling, and electromagnetic forming. These processes are employed when a design has been selected due to higher costs at low volumes. The combination of high initial costs and bipolar plates being the most expensive component of the polymer electrolyte fuel cell creates incentive to mitigate this obstacle. The feasibility of low-cost additive manufactured bipolar plates will be proven by fabrication, post-processing, and characterization of printed test specimen. The material selected for this study is Titanium Grade 2. The additive manufacturing method, bound metal deposition, via material extrusion is the process employed to create various test designs with ease. Post-processing is completed using a hot isostatic press and thermal sintering approach to be compared. In-situ and ex-situ experimental test are conducted to obtain electrical, and electrochemical properties of titanium grade 2 as a bipolar plate material. The significance of this study is the reduction of bipolar plate design costs experienced in the development stages prior to mass production and unveil new approaches to creating bipolar plate systems with composite materials. Rapid manufacturing is the implementable approach to exploit this cost related issue because of its low cost at low volumes relationship to production. Considering the evolution of bipolar plate designs over the years, the success of this study is an asset to the iterative nature of optimizing bipolar plate designs, materials, and systems for polymer electrolyte fuel cells.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Alternative Energy|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Alexander, David, "Suitability of Low-Cost Additive Manufacturing for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29170142.