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WEVO-CHEMIE Unveils Sealants and Adhesives for PEM Fuel Cells

Published on 2023-03-20. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  Polyurethane Adhesives      Sealants      Epoxy Adhesives    

Wevo Unveils Sealants and Adhesives for PEM Fuel CellsWEVO-CHEMIE develops chemically resistant, two-component materials based on polyurethane and silicone for use in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. They are applied as liquid formed in-place gasket and also have further advantages for the manufacture and operation of fuel cell components.

Low Gas-permeable Materials

The unusually low gas permeability of these materials has been confirmed by ZBT, the Duisburg hydrogen and fuel cell center, which is one of the leading research institutes in Europe in this field. One of the silicone-based products exhibited a very low hydrogen permeation coefficient of about 130 E-8 cm²/s after a measurement time of 16 hours (a figure between 500 and 1000 E-8 cm²/s is typical for addition-curing silicones). Moreover, adhesion to metal surfaces was optimized by Wevo and compression set reduced.

Related Read: Polyurethane Resins (PU) for Adhesives & Sealants: A Comprehensive Guide

Wevo’s polyurethane sealants, which have similar thermo-mechanical properties to silicones, have even lower hydrogen permeability depending on the Shore hardness setting. Their permeation coefficients vary between about 30 and 70 E-8 cm²/s, also after a 16-hour measurement period. What’s more, these products adhere significantly better than silicones to the different substrates of bipolar plates. This prevents the seal from detaching either in the course of the manufacturing process or during stacking, so that loss of sealing effect is no longer an issue. Last but not least, much faster curing is possible compared to silicones – a major asset when it comes to automated production of high volumes.

Adhesives for Stacks, Bop Components and Electrolysers

Wevo’s polyurethane-based products can additionally be used as adhesives for other applications – both within the fuel cell stack and in the balance of plant (BOP), that is the surrounding system – due to their good adhesion properties. As well as bonding the entire stack together, it is possible, for example, to simultaneously join and seal the bipolar plates’ two half-shells using customized, soft and elastic Wevo polyurethanes. For metallic bipolar plates, this joining method can be employed as an alternative to laser welding; with plates based on graphite/polymer composites, durable bonding is a must.

Wevo products also allow sealing and bonding of the humidifier’s components. In particular, their high ion purity and low levels of volatile components (VOC) rule out damage to the sensitive, ion-selective polymer membranes and the associated drop in performance. High hydrolysis resistance at temperatures up to 100 °C is ensured, too, by the special composition of the customized products.

Related Read: Innovative Raw Materials for Polyurethane Adhesives and Sealants

The anode recirculation blower or the air compressor installed in the air circuit are other possible applications in the BOP. In the latter case, Wevo’s epoxy resins and silicones enable potting of the stator for the drive motor. By optimizing the thermal conductivity and crack resistance of the materials, the forces produced during rotation are compensated and the heat generated is removed in a targeted way. Special, thermally conductive, polyurethane potting compounds and silicone gels for the power modules are likewise used for power electronic components such as DC/DC converters, on-board chargers and control units.

Suitable for Hydrogen Production Process

Due to their low hydrogen permeation coefficient of only 3 to 4 E-8 cm²/s, Wevo’s customized, tough polyurethane adhesives are also suitable for various components involved in the hydrogen production process. For instance, large stacks for electrolysers based on polymer membrane technology needed to produce “green hydrogen” can be bonded with the help of.

Alkaline electrolysis plants require adhesive systems with even higher chemical resistance than is afforded by polymer membrane technology, because this widely used type of electrolyser works with aqueous potassium hydroxide solution (30–35 per cent KOH) at 90 to 95 °C as its electrolyte. The majority of organic adhesive and sealing systems are not able to withstand such conditions permanently. A specially optimized, highly cross-linked and chemical-resistant Wevo epoxy resin, which in its thixotropic form is suitable for applying adhesive beads, is one of only a few products currently available that are capable of meeting these requirements. Wevo is currently collaborating with various research institutes and industrial partners with a view to offering more solutions in this area in the future.


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