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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 159737, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/159737
Research Article

Design, Manufacturing, and Characterization of High-Performance Lightweight Bipolar Plates Based on Carbon Nanotube-Exfoliated Graphite Nanoplatelet Hybrid Nanocomposites

1School of Mechanical and Advanced Materials Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, UNIST-gil 50, Eonyang-eup, Ulju-gun, Ulsan 689-798, Republic of Korea
2Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, Kumoh National Institute of Technology, 1 Yangho-dong, Gumi, Gyeongbuk 730-701, Republic of Korea

Received 17 June 2012; Revised 29 September 2012; Accepted 4 October 2012

Academic Editor: Jinquan Wei

Copyright © 2012 Myungsoo Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

We report a study on manufacturing and characterization of a platform material for high-performance lightweight bipolar plates for fuel cells based on nanocomposites consisting of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets (xGnPs). The experiments were designed and performed in three steps. In the preexperimental stage, xGnP-epoxy composite samples were prepared at various xGnP weight percentages to determine the maximum processable nanofiller concentration. The main part of the experiment employed the statistics-based design of experiments (DOE) methodology to identify improved processing conditions and CNT : xGnP ratio for minimized electrical resistivity. In the postexperimental stage, optimized combinations of material and processing parameters were investigated. With the aid of a reactive diluent, 20 wt.% was determined to the be maximum processable carbon nanomaterial content in the epoxy. The DOE analyses revealed that the CNT : xGnP ratio is the most dominant factor that governs the electrical properties, and its implications in relation to CNT-xGnP interactions and microstructure are elucidated. In addition, samples fabricated near the optimized condition revealed that there exists an optimal CNT : xGnP ratio at which the electrical performance can be maximized. The electrical and mechanical properties of optimal samples suggest that CNT-xGnP hybrid nanocomposites can serve as an alternative material platform for affordable, lightweight bipolar plates.