Hexcel has confirmed its participation in the DOLPHIN project (Disruptive PEM Fuel Cell stack with nOvel materiaLs, Processes, arcHitecture, and optimized INterfaces).

The company will cooperate with world-class research and technology partners to create improved composite solutions for more efficient hydrogen fuel cells, speeding the adoption of cleaner, more sustainable fuel cell technologies.

The project’s objective is to significantly advance current state-of-the-art technology by developing a 5kW fuel cell stack demonstration with enhanced power density in addition to a fully completed 100kW stack design. While current PEMFC stack technologies for automotive applications have demonstrated their competitiveness in terms of performance and durability, the primary barrier to mass manufacture and commercialization of fuel cells is cost reduction. The DOLPHIN project intends to demonstrate the additional potential of a new generation of fuel cells by implementing an innovative, disruptive approach to a new cell architecture with a repeating unit reduced to two integrated core components.

To achieve a lofty goal of 25% improvement in volumetric power density, innovative approaches in cell and stack design, manufacturing technology, process integration, interface quality, material efficiency, and lightweight composite materials will be combined. The project is working toward a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 3 – a proof of concept for positioning the DOLPHIN stack technology.

Hexcel is supplying lightweight PrimeTex® woven carbon fiber textiles, HexMC® molding materials, HexPly® prepregs, and prepreg laminates for use in three critical regions of the fuel cell stack (terminal plates, gas diffusion layers, and bi-polar plates) to help reduce the stack’s weight and volume.

PrimeTex® lightweight spread tow woven carbon fiber reinforcements will be employed in the fuel cell’s gas diffusion layers and bi-polar plates, respectively, in dry form and as a single-ply (100m thickness) HexPly® M901 prepreg. The proprietary fiber spreading technology used in the low aerial weight PrimeTex® reinforcements enhances homogeneity and results in a gap-free structure, which is crucial in bi-polar plate applications.

The DOLPHIN project will be supported by Hexcel locations in Les Avenières (France), Duxford (United Kingdom), and Neumarkt (Austria). Hexcel will create compression molded terminal plates using HexPly® and HexMC® materials to minimize weight and enable more integrated functionality.

The DOLPHIN project was funded by the Joint Undertaking on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 under grant agreement No. 826204. The European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation initiative, Hydrogen Europe, and Hydrogen Europe Research all support this Joint Undertaking.

With greenhouse gas emission reduction targets highlighting the need for greener fuels, the EU Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative continues to fund research aimed at resolving performance, durability, and manufacturing cost constraints preventing mass production and widespread commercialization of current state-of-the-art fuel cell technology. Hexcel will collaborate with major research and industry partners Symbio (JV Faurecia and Michelin), ZSW Ulm, Chemours, DMG MORI Additive GmbH, and The University of Manchester on the project, which is being coordinated by the CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives).

Nedim Husomanovic

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