by Kat Griffin Kat Griffin

Exploring the Significance of Graphite in Fuel Cells

Exploring the Significance of Graphite in Fuel Cells

Fuel cells have emerged as a viable eco-conscious energy solution, with continuous advancements in the technology. Presently, fuel cells serve as primary and backup power sources for commercial, industrial, and residential structures. Notably, they also power various vehicles, ranging from forklifts, cars, and buses to boats, motorcycles, and submarines. As fuel cell technology progresses, the significance of utilizing high-purity graphite for bipolar plates, gas diffusion layers, and catalysts within these cells becomes increasingly apparent.


Why Graphite?

The utilization of graphite in fuel cells is attributed to its exceptional combination of properties, rendering it highly suitable for a multitude of components within the fuel cell stack.

  • Electrical Conductivity: Graphite is an excellent conductor of electricity, allowing it to carry the electrical currents generated in the fuel cell’s electrochemical reactions.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Fuel cells operate in an environment that can be corrosive, especially at elevated temperatures. Graphite’s inherent resistance to corrosion, even under such demanding conditions, ensures the longevity and reliability of fuel cell components.
  • Thermal Stability: Graphite can withstand high temperatures without deforming or degrading, making it suitable for the extreme temperature conditions that can occur within fuel cells during operation.
  • Chemical Inertness: Graphite is chemically inert, meaning it does not readily react with the chemicals involved in fuel cell reactions. This prevents unwanted side reactions and ensures the purity of the fuel cell’s operation.
  • Lightweight and Strong: The lightweight characteristic of graphite proves advantageous in applications such as bipolar plates, as it reduces the overall weight of the fuel cell system while upholding its structural integrity.
  • High Surface Area: Graphite’s layered structure provides a substantial surface area, which can enhance its performance as a catalyst support in fuel cell electrodes.
  • Flexibility: Flexible graphite can conform to complex shapes and designs, making it suitable for various intricate components within fuel cells.
  • Conductivity Parallel to Surface: In applications like bipolar plates, graphite’s conductivity is particularly valuable as it enables efficient electron transfer between the fuel cell’s layers.
  • Considering these attributes, graphite becomes an essential material for crafting bipolar plates, gas diffusion layers, catalyst supports, and other critical components within fuel cells. Its contributions ensure the optimal functioning, efficiency, and durability of fuel cell systems across a wide range of applications, from transportation to stationary power generation.


What is graphite’s role in fuel cell technology?

Graphite plays a crucial role in fuel cell technology as a component of the catalyst support material. In Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs), which are a type of fuel cell commonly used in vehicles and stationary power applications, graphite is utilized as a substrate for the catalyst layer. This layer contains the catalyst that facilitates the electrochemical reactions in the fuel cell, converting hydrogen and oxygen into water and producing electricity in the process.

Graphite’s properties, such as high electrical conductivity and chemical stability, make it an ideal material for this role. Additionally, graphite’s porous structure provides a large surface area for dispersing the catalyst, enhancing reaction efficiency.

Overall, graphite’s use in fuel cell technology contributes to the effectiveness and sustainable generation of electricity through the conversion of hydrogen fuel into clean energy.

by Kat Griffin Kat Griffin

CVD Diamond Coated Tools: Graphite Machining Edge

CVD Diamond Coated Tools

Graphite is a material that is relatively easy to machine, but its abrasiveness poses challenges for carbide tools. However, CVD diamond coated tools offer a ideal solution, as they last 12-20 times longer than carbide tools when machining graphite, and sometimes even longer.


What is Diamond Tool Coating?

Diamond coating, also known as diamond film deposition, is a process where a thin layer of synthetic diamond is applied to the surface of cutting tools, drills, end mills, inserts, or other types of industrial tools. The coating is typically applied using methods like Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD).

For non-ferrous metal materials, CVD (chemical vapor deposition) diamond coating is an excellent option. It proves to be an ideal coating for metal matrix composite (MMC), high silicon aluminum alloy, machining graphite, and other abrasive materials. However, it’s important to note that diamond-coated tools are not suitable for cutting steel due to the considerable heat generated and the potential for chemical reactions that could harm the machining process.


Why Should You Choose CVD Diamond Coating for Graphite Machining 

Diamond coated end mills have a very wide operating range from 200 to over 2,000 surface feet per minute. This provides an opportunity for significant productivity increases. Other benefits of diamond tool coatings include:

  • Extended tool life from 5-25 times longer than uncoated carbide
  • Best edge retention for consistent finish
  • Best tolerance retention
  • Improve abrasion resistance
  • Decreased down time for tool changes
  • Higher productivity from increased feeds and speeds


MWI, Inc. carries Black Diamond Shredder roughing end mills for all your heavy-duty graphite machining needs. These end mills are designed to remove large amounts of material quickly and more efficiently than standard end mills.

Interested in learning more, click the link here or email us today at

by Kat Griffin Kat Griffin

High-Speed Collaboration

In light of RIT’s F30 securing an impressive 4th place overall out of 72 teams in Michigan this summer, MWI, Inc. would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the FSAE team. We recognize that this remarkable achievement wouldn’t have been possible without our collaborative efforts, and it fills us with pride to be a part of this successful partnership, propelling them to be ranked as the fastest (up to 70mph) single inboard motor FSAE car in North America.

Influencing the Process

MWI plays an F30integral role in machining the molds that shape the body for RIT’s competition vehicles. High density tooling foam is used to create molds that are eventually covered with fiberglass. Once the fiberglass solidifies the shape, it becomes the mold for the carbon fiber monocoques and large aerodynamic shrouds/wings. These carbon fiber components are exceptionally thin and lightweight, yet remarkably strong considering its weight.


Fifteen years ago, our very own Stan, a skilled manufacturing engineer, started the programming and machining of these molds. Initially, engineering students observed the process in the shop, gradually becoming more engaged, while Stan provided guidance with machine and tooling setup.

Approximately two years ago, Stu, another skilled engineer from MWI, assumed the responsibility and began assisting RIT’s all-female solar car team, Hot Wheelz. The Chassis team is accountable for the development and fabrication of the vehicle’s body and related structural components. Notably, the molds for this project are considerably larger than those used for a standard formula-style car. They creatively employ carbon fiber in the design to optimize performance, achieving speeds of up to 45mph.

Despite the challenges Hot Wheelz encountered in completing their molds last year, they remain determined to achieve their goals this academic year. “We are incredibly grateful to MWI for their continued support of our team and others.” said team member, Ethan Patane. Currently, Hot Wheelz is diligently working on the top and bottom shell, machining 8-9 molds here at our Henrietta location.

Our Commitment

MWI’s dedication to helping student teams like RIT’s demonstrates our commitment to advancing engineering and innovation in our community. We are thrilled to have them as an invaluable partner in our endeavors and look forward to continuing this impactful collaboration.

by Kat Griffin Kat Griffin

5 Benefits of Using Brass Tubes in Hole Poppers and Small EDM

In hole poppers and small EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) applications, machine shops frequently use brass tubes. These tubes function as the EDM electrodes, serving as the conductive materials responsible for creating precision holes in workpieces.


Five benefits of using brass tubes in hole poppers and small EDM include:

  1. Electrical Conductivity:brass tubes

    Brass is an excellent conductor of electricity, making it suitable for EDM applications. It allows the electrical discharge to efficiently flow between the electrode and the workpiece, facilitating the material removal process.

  2. Thermal Conductivity:

    Brass has good thermal conductivity, which helps dissipate heat generated during the EDM process. Efficient heat transfer prevents overheating of the electrode and workpiece, ensuring stability and reducing the risk of thermal damage.

  3. Wear Resistance

    Brass exhibits good wear resistance properties, allowing it to withstand the abrasive forces involved in EDM operations. This durability helps prolong the lifespan of the brass tubes, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

  4. Machinability:

    Brass is a relatively easy material to machine, allowing for the production of precise and customized electrode tubes for specific EDM applications. It can be shaped, drilled, and threaded to meet the requirements of different EDM processes.

  5. Corrosion Resistance:

    Brass has inherent corrosion resistance properties, making it suitable for use in various environments. This corrosion resistance helps ensure the longevity and performance of the brass tubes as an EDM electrode.

Overall, brass tubes for hole poppers and small EDM offer advantages such as electrical and thermal conductivity, wear resistance, machinability, and corrosion resistance. These properties contribute to the efficiency, precision, and durability of the EDM process.