The electrical contact resistance between gas diffusion layers and bipolar flow channel plates is one of the important factors contributing to the operational voltage loss in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Effective analysis and design of fuel cells therefore need to account for the contact resistance in deriving the polarization curve for the cell. Despite its significance, relatively scant work is reported in the open literature on the measurement and modeling of the contact resistance in fuel cell systems, and the present work aims to fill this void. Experimental data are reported for the first time to show the effects of different gas diffusion layer materials and contact pressure on the electrical contact resistance. A fractal asperity based model is adopted to predict the contact resistance as a function of pressure, material properties, and surface geometry. Good agreement is observed between the data and the model predictions for a wide range of contacting pressures and materials.

1.
Barbir
,
F.
,
Braun
,
J.
, and
Neutzler
,
J.
, 1999, “
Properties of Molded Graphite Bi-Polar Plates for PEM Fuel Cell Stacks
,”
J. New Mater. Electrochem. Syst.
1480-2422
2
, pp.
197
200
.
2.
Wang
,
H.
,
Sweikart
,
M. A.
, and
Turner
,
J. A.
, 2003 “
Stainless Steel as Bi-polar Plate Material for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells
,”
J. Power Sources
0378-7753
115
, pp.
243
-
251
.
3.
Ihonen
,
J.
,
Jaouen
,
F.
,
Lindbergh
,
G.
, and
Sundholm
,
G.
, 2001, “
A Novel Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell for Laboratory Investigations and In-Situ Contact Resistance Measurements
,”
Electrochim. Acta
0013-4686
46
, pp.
2899
2911
.
4.
Greenwood
,
J. A.
, and
Williamson
,
J. B. P.
, 1966, “
Contact of Nominally Flat Surfaces
,”
Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A
1364-5021
A295
, pp.
300
319
.
5.
Cooper
,
M. G.
,
Mikic
,
B. B.
, and
Yovanovich
,
M. M.
, 1969, “
Thermal Contact Conductance
,”
Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer
0017-9310
12
, pp.
279
300
.
6.
Mikic
,
B.
, 1974, “
Thermal Contact Conductance Theoretical Considerations
,”
Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer
0017-9310
17
, pp.
205
214
.
7.
Bush
,
A. W.
,
Gibson
,
R. D.
, and
Thomas
,
T. R.
, 1975, “
The Elastic Contact of a Rough Surface
,”
Wear
0043-1648
35
, pp.
87
111
.
8.
Majumdar
,
A.
, and
Tien
,
C. L.
, 1989, “
Fractal Network Model for Contact Conductance
,”
Jt. ASME/AIChE National Heat Transfer Conference
, Philadelphia, PA, pp.
1
9
.
9.
Yang
,
F.
, and
Pitchumani
,
R.
, 2001, “
A Fractal Cantor Set based Description of Interlaminar Contact Evolution During Thermoplastic Composites Processing
,”
J. Mater. Sci.
0022-2461
36
, pp.
4661
4671
.
10.
Yang
,
F.
, and
Pitchumani
,
R.
, 2002, “
Interlaminar Contact Development During Thermoplastic Fusion Bonding
,”
Polym. Eng. Sci.
0032-3888
42
, pp.
424
438
.
11.
Majumdar
,
A.
, and
Bhushan
,
B.
, 1998, “
Characterization and Modeling of Surface Roughness and Contact Mechanics
,”
Handbook of Micro/Nanotechnology
,
B.
Bhushan
, ed.,
second ed.
,
CRC Press
, Boca Raton, pp.
109
165
.
You do not currently have access to this content.