I got a phone call recently from Ballard Material Products Division about their new "drop-in" alternative to Toray's widely-used carbon fiber paper. The new gas diffusion layer (GDL) material comes in two different thicknesses: AvCarb® MGL190 (or MGL 190, 0.19 mm thick) and MGL370 (or MGL 370, 0.37 mm thick). It is claimed to be a drop-in replacement to Toray's GDL, except at a lower cost. An additional benefit is being U.S.-made, rather than an import, which helps provide domestic content on U.S. Government projects. (Full Disclosure: Ballard has teamed with my employer Giner Electrochemical Systems, LLC. on a U.S. DOE-funded research program to develop modeling of transport phenomena in H2/Air PEM fuel cells.)
Ballard Material Products Division was previously owned by Textron. The Ottawa Business Journal reported in 2001 that Ballard buys Textron unit for $12.8M US. Ballard announced that the deal included 66 patents issued and pending worldwide, covering 14 innovations. Since that time Ballard has not moved the Material Products Division to British Columbia, but allowed it to remain in Lowell, MA.
A Ballard/Toray comparison (left) shows the AvCarb® material at the same thickness, bulk density, and porosity as the Toray material. In addition, the AvCarb® has improved electrical resistivity, incresead flexural strength, tensile strength, and flexural modulus. A sample of both the MGL190 and MGL370 are in-transit to Giner, and will be tested in the coming weeks. We will likely test it for fuel cell, electrolyzer, and possibly other electrochemical applications.
I have not been able to find any information on AvCarb® MGL190 or MGL370 on the Web, so I guess you saw it here first!