Using additive manufacturing (AM) technology, a fundamental material and structure innovation was proposed to significantly increase the energy efficiency, and to reduce the weight, volume and component quantity of proton exchange membrane electrolyzer cells (PEMECs). Four conventional parts (liquid/gas diffusion layer, bipolar plate, gasket, and current distributor) in a PEMEC were integrated into one multifunctional AM plate without committing to tools or molds for the first time. In addition, since the interfacial contact resistances between those parts were eliminated, the comprehensive in-situ characterizations of AM cells showed that an excellent energy efficiency of up to 86.48% was achieved at 2 A/cm2 and 80 °C, and the hydrogen generation rate was increased by 61.81% compared to the conventional cell. More importantly, the highly complex inner structures of the AM integrated multifunctional plates also exhibit the potential to break limitations of conventional manufacture methods for hydrogen generation and to open a door for the development of other energy conversion devices, including fuel cells, solar cells and batteries.
Yang, G., Mo, J., Kang, Z., Dohrmann, Y., List, F. A., Green, J. B., … Zhang, F. Y. (2018). Fully printed and integrated electrolyzer cells with additive manufacturing for high-efficiency water splitting. Applied Energy, 215, 202–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.02.001