The aim of this review is to summarize the possibilities of replacing graphite bipolar plates in fuel-cells. The review is mostly focused on metallic bipolar plates, which benefit from many properties required for fuel cells, viz. good mechanical properties, thermal and electrical conductivity, availability, and others. The main disadvantage of metals is that their corrosion resistance in the fuel-cell environment originates from the formation of a passive layer, which significantly increases interfacial contact resistance. Suitable coating systems prepared by a proper deposition method are eventually able to compensate for this disadvantage and make the replacement of graphite bipolar plates possible. This review compares coatings, materials, and deposition methods based on electrochemical measurements and contact resistance properties with respect to achieving appropriate parameters established by the DOE as objectives for 2020. An extraordinary number of studies have been performed, but only a minority of them provided promising results. One of these is the nanocrystalline β-Nb2
N coating on AISI 430, prepared by the disproportionation reaction of Nb(IV) in molten salt, which satisfied the DOE 2020 objectives in terms of corrosion resistance and interfacial contact resistance. From other studies, TiN, CrN, NbC, TiC, or amorphous carbon-based coatings seem to be promising. This paper is novel in extracting important aspects for future studies and methods for testing the properties of metallic materials and factors affecting monitoring characteristics and parameters.
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