Photo Credit: ZSW | ZG Architekten
The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW – Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg) in Ulm has taken a decisive step towards production research for fuel cells with the ground-breaking ceremony for the Research Factory for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (HyFaB – Forschungsfabrik für Wasserstoff und Brennstoffzellen) on 10 February 2021 // The Ministry of Economic Affairs of the State of Baden-Württemberg plans to fund the project with 10.5 million euros
Fuel cells technology is an area of great hope – especially in the transport sector. But mass production of these energy converters is not yet in place. Fuel cell vehicles powered by green hydrogen are among the most environmentally friendly means of transport, especially when long distances and short refueling times are required. In order to make this technology suitable for the mass market, costs must be brought down while simultaneously significantly expanding production capacities.
With the HyFaB factory, the ZSW is establishing an open industry platform for automated production and quality assurance processes, factory acceptance tests and commissioning of fuel cell stacks. In addition, skilled workers are to be trained up, and industry knowledge is to be acquired. The HyFaB is open to partners from the automotive and fuel cell supplier industry as well as to enterprises from the mechanical and plant engineering sector. The project, which is unique in Germany, is scheduled to come on stream at the beginning of 2022. In addition to the ZSW, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg is involved in the HyFaB project as a scientific partner.
Funded by the FVV (IGF project number 1366 | project duration: 01.09.2019 - 30.06.2020), a generic fuel cell stack was developed as a test platform for automobile applications at ZSW under the leadership of Dr Joachim Scholta.
High-performance fuel cell stacks are complex constructions: hundreds of individual cells, consisting of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with 10-micrometre-thin membranes, have to be matched to each other with bipolar plates with an overall height of just under 1 millimetre and filigree gas distribution structures plus the gas diffusion layers made of porous carbon fibre fleece and joined together to form a stack. In the HyFaB project, the new and automated manufacturing technology required for large-scale production is to be developed. The creation of the associated, standardised quality methods is essential for the development of a powerful supplier industry and competent mechanical engineering. The training of skilled workers will also be an important part of the project.
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