It looks like national laboratories are expending a lot of effort on developing various aspects of new energy sources. After the Argonne lab
announcement of a new material for fuel production facilities, the Department of Energy has given $4.5 million to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its partners. Oak Ridge is developing nitrided metallic bipolar plates for use in automotive fuel cells
. This award is a follow-up to a previous development deal to demonstrate the potential of material.
The new metallic plates are preferred by car-makers over the current carbon composite plates, probably for cost reasons. Current metal plates, have problems with corrosion which limits their life-span. The new process that's being developed actually changes the surface chemistry of the plates, to make them more durable rather than depositing a coating. The development program will last two years.