Spectracarb CAPLINQ LINQCELL a history

The history of CAPLINQ, Spectracarb and LINQCELL

Since the term “Spec­tracarb” con­tin­ues to bring many cus­tomers to CAPLIN­Q’s web­site, we are often asked if CAPLINQ man­u­fac­tures Spec­tracarb and what is the rela­tion­ship between Spec­tracarb and CAPLINQ. This sec­tion is meant to answer that ques­tion in more detail while still pre­serv­ing a lot of the his­to­ry and con­tent that was cre­at­ed for Engi­neered Fibers Tech­nol­o­gy (EFT) and GinerELX at the time.

1991 to 2005: Spectracarb the very early days

In the ear­ly days of Spec­tracarb, from 1991 to 2005, the com­pa­ny estab­lished itself as a lead­ing pro­duc­er of GDL prod­ucts for com­mer­cial appli­ca­tions. They were also a leader in the devel­op­ment of new GDL mate­ri­als, and had sev­er­al con­tracts with the Depart­ment of Ener­gy. Addi­tion­al­ly, the com­pa­ny had sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from the auto­mo­tive and indus­tri­al sectors.

2005 to 2012: Spectracarb the early days

From 2005 to 2012, Spec­tracarb was acquired by Engi­neered Fibers Tech­nol­o­gy (EFT), a com­pa­ny owned by Robert Evans who con­tin­ued to grow the com­pa­ny through their focus on engi­neered mate­ri­als research, wet-laid paper devel­op­ment, and spe­cial­ty short-cut fiber inves­ti­ga­tions. Under EFT’s lead­er­ship, Spec­tracarb con­tin­ued to be a major play­er in the GDL indus­try and made sig­nif­i­cant advance­ments in its prod­ucts and processes.

Spectracarb caplinq linqcell history 1991 to 2012

Though the com­pa­ny had earned a name for itself as a pio­neer in the man­u­fac­ture of Graphi­tized Car­bon Paper and Pan­els for use as Gas Dif­fu­sion Lay­ers in Fuel Cells and Elec­trolyz­ers, sales remained low as the mar­ket was still in its infancy.

2013 — 2018: Spectracarb partnership with CAPLINQ begins

In Octo­ber 2013, Robert Evans of EFT had a meet­ing with Christo­pher Per­abo, the Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Direc­tor of CAPLINQ. Dur­ing the meet­ing, Per­abo shared that his com­pa­ny, CAPLINQ, was in the process of devel­op­ing a series of prod­ucts and mate­ri­als that would sup­port the bur­geon­ing Renew­able Ener­gy mar­ket. Rec­og­niz­ing the poten­tial of Spec­tracarb as a unique and inno­v­a­tive prod­uct, Per­abo shared that it could be used as a gas dif­fu­sion lay­er in fuel cells, elec­trolyz­ers, bat­ter­ies, humid­i­fiers, and a vari­ety of oth­er elec­tro­chem­i­cal devices. Togeth­er, Evans and Per­abo agreed that there was a sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op this mar­ket and signed a defin­i­tive agree­ment to col­lab­o­rate and work togeth­er to devel­op, sell and sup­port Spec­tracarb as a gas dif­fu­sion lay­er in var­i­ous appli­ca­tions. This part­ner­ship marked a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward for both com­pa­nies in the ever-expand­ing renew­able ener­gy market.

From 2013 to 2018, CAPLINQ and EFT formed a close part­ner­ship to devel­op cut­ting-edge graphi­tized car­bon prod­ucts for man­u­fac­tur­ers of elec­trolyz­ers and fuel cells glob­al­ly. Annu­al­ly, the com­pa­nies joint­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Han­nover Messe trade show, where they met with both cur­rent and prospec­tive clients and show­cased the newest advance­ments in the porous graphite paper/panel industry.

Spectracarb owner Robert Evans and CAPLINQ Business Development Director Christopher Perabo at Hannover Messe
Robert Evans of EFT and Christo­pher Per­abo of CAPLINQ at Han­nover Messe

Spectracarb Products and Nomenclature

Though many oth­er prod­ucts and vari­a­tions were devel­oped with cus­tomers over the years, the fol­low­ing table cov­ers the most pop­u­lar Spec­tracarb prod­ucts that were developed.

Spec­tracarb 2050A prop­er­ties (Dis­con­tin­ued Q4 2021)
Prod­uct Thick­ness inches/mm Den­si­ty Required Load­ing for 12.5% ± 0.5% Strain Through-Plane Resis­tiv­i­ty Stan­dard
Spec­tracarb 0850 .0075” ±.001″
0.19 ±0.02mm
0.5 g/cm³ ± 0.075 100 lbf/in² ± 50 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 16 x 16″
Spec­tracarb 1050 .011″ ±.001″
0.28 ±0.02mm
0.5 g/cm³ ± 0.075 100 lbf/in² ± 50 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 16 x 16″
Spec­tracarb 1550 .0145” ±.001″
0.37 ±0.02 mm
0.5 g/cm³ ± 0.075 100 lbf/in² ± 50 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 16 x 16″
Spec­tracarb 6060 .06″ ±.005″
1.5 ±0.12mm
0.6 g/cm³ ± 0.075 300 lbf/in² ± 100 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 22 x 22″
Spec­tracarb 7090D .064″ ±.003″
1.6 ±0.07mm
0.775 g/cm³ ± 0.075 400 lbf/in² ± 150 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 22 x 22″
Spec­tracarb 7090XT .084″ ±.003″
2.1 ±0.07mm
0.775 g/cm³ ± 0.075 400 lbf/in² ± 150 100 mOhm-cm @175 lbf/in² 22 x 22″

Lega­cy Spec­tracarb prod­uct codes

  • 2050 HF: Oth­er spe­cial grades include “2050 HF” with high­er mean pore size and increased permeability.
  • 2050 HT: Spec­tracarb GDL can also be man­u­fac­tured in the den­si­ty and thick­ness ranges shown above, but using mod­i­fied pro­cess­ing to achieve high­er elec­tri­cal con­duc­tiv­i­ty and improved cor­ro­sion resis­tance with our ”2050 HT” Series for use in PAFC and oth­er spe­cial products.
  • 2050 L: Spec­tracarb GDL thin papers and thick­er pan­els can also be pro­vid­ed on spe­cial order in a “2050 L” grade which is car­bonized at a low­er max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture to pro­vide a low­er-cost prod­uct for humid­i­fiers and oth­er spe­cial products.
  • 2050 P: Both papers and pan­els can also be pro­vid­ed on spe­cial order in our “2050 P Series” where addi­tion­al purifi­ca­tion can be con­duct­ed to pro­vide trace elements
  • 2050 WP: Wet proofed grades incor­po­rat­ing a micro­p­orous hydropho­bic lay­er of any of the Spec­tracarb series can be pro­vid­ed through a part­ner company.
  • Cus­tomer Spe­cif­ic Grades: It is also pos­si­ble to make Hybrid con­struc­tions in the Mul­ti-lay­er con­struc­tions. Con­tact us to dis­cuss any spe­cial require­ments, or for the design and pro­duc­tion of grades for your spe­cif­ic requirement.
  • 2225 Acti­vat­ed fab­ric is also discontinued.
Spectracarb used as a Gas Diffusion Layer in an electrolyzer cell stack
Spec­tracarb used as a GDL in an elec­trolyz­er cell stack

CAPLINQ presents at Hannover Messe in 2016

By 2016, CAPLINQ and EFT had devel­oped a strong part­ner­ship, with CAPLINQ gain­ing exten­sive knowl­edge of the man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es and prac­tices of graphi­tized car­bon pan­els and papers, equiv­a­lent to that of EFT. Through­out the years, CAPLINQ also worked close­ly with lead­ers in the elec­trolyz­er and fuel cell indus­try to cus­tomize and devel­op GDL prod­ucts for spe­cif­ic appli­ca­tions. CAPLINQ was also well-versed in the advan­tages of the paper­mak­ing approach to cre­ate spe­cial­ized GDL prod­ucts. As a result of their exper­tise, CAPLINQ was invit­ed to present at the Han­nover Messe in 2016 as part of the Hydro­gen Fuel Cells Bat­ter­ies Group Exhibit.

Below is a copy of the pre­sen­ta­tion that was giv­en by Christo­pher Per­abo as well as a video of the pre­sen­ta­tion itself dur­ing the 2016 Han­nover Messe.

CAPLINQ Spectracarb Presentation Hannover 2016

CAPLINQ Spec­tracarb Pow­er­point Han­nover 2016

CAPLINQ Spectracarb Video Presentation Hannover 2016

CAPLINQ Spec­tracarb Video Pre­sen­ta­tion Han­nover 2016

2018 — 2019: Spectracarb acquired by GinerELX

In Decem­ber 2018 GinerELX acquired the entire­ty of the Spec­tracarb GDL busi­ness from Engi­neered Fibers Tech­nol­o­gy (EFT). This includ­ed the brand­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, stock, and all of the company’s assets while nat­u­ral­ly inher­it­ing their entire cus­tomer base. CAPLINQ, hav­ing col­lab­o­rat­ed close­ly with the EFT team, was aware of the talks with GinerELX before the acqui­si­tion and sup­port­ed EFT’s deci­sion to be acquired by GinerELX. This was based on the expec­ta­tion that GinerELX, a lead­ing play­er in the elec­trol­y­sis hydro­gen gen­er­a­tor mar­ket, would con­tin­ue to invest in the growth of the Graphi­tized Car­bon Sheet mar­ket, as it serves as a cru­cial com­po­nent in the assem­bly, specif­i­cal­ly as a gas dif­fu­sion layer.

The use of graphi­tized car­bon sheet as a gas dif­fu­sion lay­er is vital for the effi­cient oper­a­tion of elec­trol­y­sis hydro­gen gen­er­a­tors, and CAPLINQ saw the acqui­si­tion as a way for GinerELX to fur­ther strength­en its posi­tion in the GDL mar­ket and con­tin­ue to dri­ve inno­va­tion in this area.

The acqui­si­tion of Spec­tracarb by GinerELX ter­mi­nat­ed the agree­ment between CAPLINQ and EFT. CAPLINQ remained a cus­tomer of GinerELX which con­tin­ued to sup­ply the Spec­tracarb GDL to CAPLINQ as well as oth­er mar­ket partners.

2019: The birth of LINQCELL

Though rela­tion­ships between CAPLINQ and GinerELX were very pos­i­tive, as part of their acqui­si­tion GinerELX decid­ed not to con­tin­ue to devel­op the broad­er Spec­tracarb GDL mar­ket. Instead, GinerELX decid­ed to stream­line its Spec­tracarb GDL offer­ing, choos­ing to focus only on man­u­fac­tur­ing the spe­cif­ic range of porous car­bon sheets that could be used as GDLs in elec­trolyz­ers. This elim­i­nat­ed all the very thin GDL sheets used as GDLs in Fuel Cells, as well as the oth­er car­bon paper, car­bon felts, and acti­vat­ed car­bon cloths used in elec­trolyz­ers and oth­er elec­tro­chem­i­cal devices.

As a result, from August 2019, GinerELX has adapt­ed or com­plete­ly removed some of the prod­uct lines to reflect the ser­vices GinerELX’s clients most­ly need. Among oth­er pop­u­lar CAPLINQ cus­tomer prod­ucts, this result­ed in the 55 x 55cm Spec­tracarb GDL pan­els being discontinued.

CAPLINQ respond­ed by invest­ing in the devel­op­ment and man­u­fac­ture of its own car­bon-based prod­uct line, LINQCELL, which includes Graphi­tized Car­bon Paper and Pan­els. This exclu­sive prod­uct line was designed not to com­pete but rather to com­ple­ment the Spec­tracarb elec­trolyz­er GDL offer­ing and con­tin­ue ser­vic­ing cus­tomers in the fuel cell, elec­trolyz­er, and elec­tro­chem­i­cal device markets.

Uti­liz­ing its mar­ket knowl­edge, prod­uct exper­tise, and man­u­fac­tur­ing expe­ri­ence, CAPLINQ was able to devel­op its own prod­uct port­fo­lio, allow­ing it to con­tin­ue inno­vat­ing its prod­uct line for exist­ing cus­tomers and attract a larg­er cus­tomer base with new products.

2020: Bye Bye Spectracarb. The end of an era.

In Sep­tem­ber 2019, Plug­Pow­er, a lead­ing provider of hydro­gen engines and fuel­ing solu­tions unveiled a 5‑year plan to tar­get $1B in rev­enue by 2024. Part of their strat­e­gy it turned out was to acquire GinerELX out­right and set out to do so. By June 2020, Plug­Pow­er had com­plet­ed its acqui­si­tion of GinerELX includ­ing the Spec­tracarb business.

As part of its ver­ti­cal strat­e­gy, Plug­Pow­er want­ed to both con­trol the entire ver­ti­cal mar­ket as well as lim­it access of its com­peti­tors to it. This nat­u­ral­ly involved cut­ting off the sup­ply of Spec­tracarb prod­ucts to its “fren­e­mies” in the mar­ket — those cus­tomers that Plug­Pow­er need­ed to dri­ve down the price of GDL sheets but that also com­pet­ed against Plug­Pow­er in sim­i­lar markets.

As such, it was only log­i­cal that Plug­Pow­er would stop sup­ply­ing Spec­tracarb mate­ri­als to CAPLINQ or to any oth­er Spec­tracarb cus­tomer. Since the end of 2020, Spec­tracarb is only avail­able through chan­nels that acquired Spec­tracarb man­u­fac­tured pri­or to 2021.

2020: Hello LINQCELL | Graphitized Carbon-Based GDLs

In 2018, when EFT announced that GinerELX would take over the Spec­tracarb busi­ness, CAPLIN­Q’s cus­tomers — who relied on this inno­v­a­tive porous graphite paper for their Gas Dif­fu­sion Lay­ers — became ner­vous. Despite ini­tial assur­ances from GinerELX, a devel­op­er of elec­trol­y­sis hydro­gen gen­er­a­tors, that there were no plans to dis­con­tin­ue Spec­tracarb GDL, many of CAPLIN­Q’s cus­tomers rec­og­nized GinerELX as a man­u­fac­tur­er of elec­tro­chem­i­cal devices — the same mar­ket they com­pet­ed in.

Though there was no way to pre­dict the series of events that would lead to the unavail­abil­i­ty of Spec­tracarb GDL, CAPLIN­Q’s cus­tomers turned to our team of experts to devel­op alternatives.

In response to GinerELX’s dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the thin graphite car­bon paper used as a gas dif­fu­sion lay­er in fuel cells by a lead­ing sup­pli­er, CAPLIN­Q’s engi­neers quick­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with the mar­ket­ing team to devel­op a suit­able replace­ment. The result was LINQCELL GDP180, a 180-micron porous graphi­tized car­bon paper. This inno­v­a­tive prod­uct was the first in the LINQCELL prod­uct fam­i­ly and was specif­i­cal­ly devel­oped to meet the needs of a fuel cell cus­tomer. This prod­uct was made avail­able to cus­tomers just weeks after the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion was announced, min­i­miz­ing dis­rup­tion and ensur­ing a smooth tran­si­tion for our val­ued cus­tomers. This prod­uct is a close alter­na­tive to the Spec­tracarb 0850.

Short­ly there­after, GinerELX announced the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the Spec­tracarb GDL pan­els in 55 x 55 cm sizes. This prod­uct too was a pop­u­lar prod­uct for CAPLINQ cus­tomers work­ing on elec­trolyz­er appli­ca­tions. In response, CAPLINQ devel­oped a thick­er car­bon pan­el result­ing in the LINQCELL GDL1500, a 1.5mm porous graphi­tized car­bon pan­el.

These two prod­ucts formed the basis of CAPLIN­Q’s LINQCELL Graphi­tized Car­bon Paper port­fo­lio but quick­ly grew to include sev­er­al more prod­ucts as we worked to cus­tomize cus­tomers’ par­tic­u­lar requests con­cern­ing thick­ness, tol­er­ance, poros­i­ty, den­si­ty as well as fin­ish­es includ­ing PTFE and MPL.

The LINCELL line of prod­ucts also expand­ed to include Car­bon Cloths and Acti­vat­ed Car­bon Fab­rics and our exist­ing line of LINQSTAT elec­tri­cal­ly con­duc­tive plas­tics round­ed out our portfolio.

By the end of 2020, when Plug­Pow­er had announced the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the Spec­tracarb line of graphi­tized car­bon papers for GDLs, CAPLIN­Q’s LINQCELL Car­bon-based prod­uct line was already very well devel­oped and had attract­ed many new cus­tomers. Any remain­ing cus­tomers of Spec­tracarb came to CAPLINQ and we were able to offer suit­able alternatives.

2020 to present day: The future of LINQCELL

Since 2020, CAPLINQ has invest­ed heav­i­ly in the R&D and man­u­fac­ture of LINQCELL prod­ucts. Our new inno­va­tions include alter­na­tive fur­nace process­es, alter­na­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices, and many oth­er han­dling process­es that make LINQCELL prod­ucts even more cost-effec­tive than Spec­tracarb prod­ucts while improv­ing also the tol­er­ances of the prod­ucts we provide.

Fur­ther­more, we have also made some sig­nif­i­cant part­ner­ships to be able to also offer poly­mer-based solu­tions including:

This offer­ing allows CAPLINQ to offer a more com­plete range of mate­ri­als to elec­trolyz­er and fuel cell man­u­fac­tur­ers. For any ques­tions on any of the prod­ucts or appli­ca­tions men­tioned in this arti­cle, please vis­it our web­site or feel free to con­tact us to see how we can help you with solu­tions to your design challenges.

About Chris Perabo

Chris is an energetic and enthusiastic engineer and entrepreneur. He is always interested in taking highly technical subjects and distilling these to their essence so that even the layman can understand. He loves to get into the technical details of an issue and then understand how it can be useful for specific customers and applications. Chris is currently the Director of Business Development at CAPLINQ.

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