Toho Tenax Co. Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers business, has announced that it has developed a gas diffusion layer (GDL) made of a carbon fiber fabric for use as an electrode component for fuel cells. The new GDL will be marketed starting in late September.
The new fabric-type GDL exhibits better flexibility and strength than commonly used paper-type GDLs (carbon fiber sheets impregnated with resin or other materials). With the new fabric structure, roll-to-roll processing can be performed at high speeds, cutting user costs. Also, since resin is not needed, water permeability can be further improved, resulting in higher output of the fuel cells. Based on market growth, Toho Tenax anticipates sales volume of 1 billion yen by 2015.
In recent years, demand has increased for mobile devices, stationary power supplies, and fuel cell vehicles, focusing attention on fuel cells that can be used as an energy source. Since GDL is a key part of the electrode in fuel cells, supplying hydrogen and oxygen fuel while collecting electrons generated and discharging water produced at the membrane, it must be able to conduct electricity and be water permeable. Carbon fiber sheets are generally used for GDLs, since they satisfy these performance requirements.
The Teijin Group is a global technology-driven group operating in six main fields: high-performance fibers (aramid fibers and carbon fibers); polyester fibers; films and plastics; pharmaceuticals and home health care; trading and retail; and IT and new products.