Fraunhofer IWU and industry are developing a reference plant to mass produce fuel cells and electrolysers.
The Fraunhofer IWU and industrial partners are developing the reference factory for fuel cell stacks and electrolysers. The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technologies from Chemnitz made this announcement. Making fuel cells and electrolysers suitable for industrial series manufacturing is the goal of the “Reference Factory.H2,” which was introduced in 2022. The creation of a technology kit with different process variants is a crucial component for this.
A stack that implements a novel kind of cell design developed from the design kit is a novel feature of the technology kit. This stack also includes the earlier research findings from the three Fraunhofer institutes’ work on the federal ministry of education and research-funded H2GIGA hydrogen lead project.
The reference factory is the subject of current research. For the creation of bipolar plates, H2 are effective, high-rate techniques. For instance, in the recently invented rolling technique, a pair of rollers mould the bipolar plate’s structure. The primary benefit of this technology is the quick processing time, which results in a huge increase in the number of pieces produced, economies of scale, and ultimately a substantial decrease in expenses.
The reference factory.H2 focuses on the advancement of inkjet printing technology as well as the subsequent advancement of plant technology for the cost-effective mass manufacturing of fuel cell and electrolyser membranes. The emphasis is particularly on coating techniques and related procedures. The inkjet printing technique, for instance, is used by the Fraunhofer researchers. During the printing process, the application of platinum and iridium particles can be precisely portioned and positioned.
The effective commercial ramp-up of electrolysers and fuel cells also depends on scalable production technologies and process chains. Particularly in the case of fuel cells, the region of application places various demands on robustness and service life. This must be considered, and the production procedures must be flexible enough to accommodate it. An essential step in determining the scalability of these procedures is the development and testing of near-series prototypes. The machine concepts therefore evolved at the reference factory. H2 can be used to produce smaller quantities as well. To be able to manufacture both small series and big numbers, flexibility in cell design and chemistry is essential.
The reference factory.H2 is to define the standard for industrial mass manufacturing of electrolysers and fuel cells. Science and business perceive themselves as an integrated community that collaborates to achieve a quick ramp-up.
Industrial firms integrate their core competences into the value chain in the reference factory.H2 and further develop them in collaboration with other industrial companies. For industrial businesses of various sizes and industry sectors, three levels of engagement are planned. The entry level is intended for businesses that want to more accurately identify their position within the value chain and receive orientation through workshops and studies. At the expert level, businesses get assistance with technology development. The value community offers materials and the production of prototype samples at the highest level. From January 2023, businesses have been allowed to join this value-added community; 20 businesses have already signed up and are actively participating in the transition to the hydrogen economy.