In this research, a novel woven nanocomposite was manufactured as bipolar plate of proton exchange membrane fuel cell. The developed composite includes 40 wt.% phenolic resin as binder and 45 wt.% graphite, 10 wt.% nanosheet expanded graphite, and 5 wt.% carbon fiber as fillers, as well as a woven carbon fiber cloth in the middle. A single-cell assembly was manufactured by using the developed composite bipolar plate. Subsequently, the performance and power density curves were obtained from the developed cell. The results showed that the cell performs the maximum power density as high as 812 mW/cm2 and current density 900 mA/cm2 at 0.6 V that are better than the cells prepared by the metallic and some commercial bipolar plates. In this research, in order to achieve the best cell performance, some of the operation factors containing the cell body temperature, oxygen inlet temperature, and hydrogen inlet temperature, as well as back pressure were optimized, and the results were properly discussed. Last, in order to select a suitable material for bipolar plate, using simple additive weighting method approach, a material selection was performed upon several alternatives including composite, graphite, SS316L, SS304, Hastelloy, Al, and Ti, which are currently being used for bipolar plate. The result of material selection specified that Al/CrN is the most suitable candidate to be used for bipolar plates. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.