Mining company Zenyatta Ventures Ltd plans to collaborate with Ballard Power Systems Inc to produce the high purity graphite required in components of fuel cell technology. A first step screening process of Zenyatta’s graphite material suggests that it is suitable for use in the bipolar plate and gas diffusion layer for fuel cells. High thermal stability and corrosion resistance is critical in the performance of these components in fuel cells. 

‘Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) results showed that all Albany graphite samples had high thermal stability under the Ballard standard TGA protocol,’ said Dr Rajesh Bashyam, senior research scientist, R&D for Ballard. ‘Under this protocol most forms of graphite undergo complete thermal decomposition at around 860°C to lose all carbon. On the other hand, Zenyatta’s Albany graphite samples only lost 60-65% even at 1000°C. The detailed investigation clearly indicated that the Albany graphite exhibits excellent thermal stability and this can be used advantageously in the sub-components of fuel cells, in particular as the gas diffusion layer material. Also, corrosion resistance is an important requirement for an electrically conductive material like graphite used as a component material in fuel cells. Our testing results revealed that Zenyatta graphite samples of a certain particle size were found to be more corrosion resistant than typical graphite.’

Purity required

‘We are very pleased with these results from the Ballard testing,’ said Dr. Bharat Chahar, VP of market development for Zenyatta. ‘The purity and particle size of the Albany graphite material provided was already in the range needed for fuel cell applications, and therefore no further milling or purification was needed.’

 Zenyatta commenced a market development program several months ago to initiate validation of Albany graphite in high purity graphite applications. Since the start of this program, the company has had detailed conversations with more than 35 graphite end-users, academic labs and third party testing facilities in Europe, North America and Asia.

This story is reprinted from material from Zenyatta, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.