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NORCOAT – Nordic Initiative for Low Cost Fuel Cell Bipolar Plate Coatings

The main objective and target innovation of this proposed project is a new and improved coating for metal (stainless steel) bipolar plates for PEM fuel cells, which ensures a lifetime of more than 10 000 hours with a high feasibility for low cost mass production. A developed highly corrosion resistant stainless steel coating with a low contact resistance and production cost would significantly contribute to lower the overall cost of PEMFC based fuel cell systems, and thus make a broad introduction of PEMFC systems in the transport sector more feasible.

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Fuel cell systems are excellent energy converters for producing electricity from chemical fuels. Compared to systems based on internal combustion engines, the energy efficiencies are generally higher for fuel cell systems, with lower noise and pollution levels. The polymer membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) has been commercialized in niche applications in portable, small stationary and transport markets, where the higher cost of the fuel cell systems is acceptable due to different operational advantages. However, for a broader introduction of PEMFC systems in the transport sector, for instance as auxiliary power units (APUs) for trucks or as range extenders for electric vehicles, further cost reductions are necessary.

The bipolar plate is a crucial component in the PEMFC, it conducts electricity between the serially connected cells and also distributes the reactant gases. In applications where volume and weight of the fuel cell have to be minimized, the bipolar plates are usually made from stainless steel. However, stainless steel bipolar plates have to be coated in order to protect the bipolar plate from the corrosion, reduce the energy losses stemming from the contact resistances and reduce the amounts of leaching ions which lowers the PEMFC lifetime. Typical examples of coating materials with excellent properties are gold and other noble metals. However, due to the high cost of noble metals, it is desired to find alternative coating materials.

PowerCell AB (SE)
Impact Coatings AB (SE)
Outokumpu Oy (FI)
Kromatek Oy (FI)

10.6 mill NOK (~1.3 mill EURO)

Nordic Innovation Centre and project partners


Key Factors

Project duration

01/05/2010 - 30/04/2012