Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


Hygrothermal effects on properties of highly conductive epoxy/graphite composites for applications as bipolar plates

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2008


The hygrothermal effects on mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of highly conductive graphite-based epoxy composites were investigated. The highly conductive graphite-based epoxy composites were found to be suitable for applications as bipolar plates in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The hygrothermal aging experiments were designed to simulate the service conditions in PEM fuel cells. Specifically, the composite specimens were immersed in boiling water, aqueous sulphuric acid solution, and aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide. The water uptake, changes in surface appearance and dimensions, glass transition behavior and thermal stability, and electrical and mechanical properties were evaluated. The water uptake at short time increased linearly with the square root of time as in linear Fickian diffusion. The presence of graphite significantly reduced both the rate and extent of water uptake. No discernible changes in specimen dimensions, surface appearance, and morphology of the composites were observed. The electrical conductivity and mechanical properties remained almost unchanged. The wet specimens showed slight reduction of glass transition temperature (Tg) due to plasticization of epoxy networks by absorbed water, while the re-dried specimens showed small increase of Tg. The composites maintained high electrical conductivity of about 300–500 S cm−1 and good mechanical properties and showed thermal stability up to 350 °C.



First Page


Last Page