Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: There has been considerable progress with fuel cell stack designs to meet operational requirements, but many still fall short in terms of manufacturability, production efficiency and production cost. These shortfalls need to be addressed before the full potential of the technology can be realized and commercial market opportunities in the transport sector can be taken up.

This topic is intended to include development and validation activities for existing cell and stack design and material utilisation. The objective of overcoming final stage challenges to achieve operational improvements (robustness, performance, cost targets relevant within the Transport application area, lifetime), leading to and in combination with design for manufacture and production techniques for ease of automated assembly, increased output volumes and reduced reject / fault rates and reduced production costs.

Scope:  The scope of work covers improvements to existing, validated designs for cells, at the individual cell level and at the cell component level (e.g., for BPP and development of membranes, catalyst coated membranes, electrodes and production techniques commensurate with the production of high quality, fully integrated membrane electrode assemblies) and at the stack level to meet robustness, efficiency power density, cost and enhanced lifetime objectives. The scope specifically includes improvements in cell and stack manufacturing, assembly and QA methods that support the same objectives. The TRL at commencement for cells and cell components must be at TRL 5 or above and for stack manufacturing, assembly and QA methods must be at a minimum of TRL 5 or preferably at TRL 6. 

The topic is intended to cover alternative fuel cell solutions which, for the Transport pillar, is expected to cover PEM-based designs only. It is specifically not intended to cover basic research on new materials or on fundamentally new cell and stack designs.

Project proposals should focus on development work utilising existing stack, stack material and cell component designs which, in line with the TRL 5 starting point requirement, will have already been tested and validated against automotive requirements.

Projects are expected to cover top-level objectives such as:

•             Simplification of design and manufacturing methods of cell components, cells, stacks and/or stack modules (core power generation units)

•             Cell and stack design improvements, such as increasing robustness, performance, power density, and efficiency and/or reducing cost against current automotive designs that have been validated and meet or exceed the TRL 5 level

•             Improvement of existing manufacturing methods to increase manufacturing yield and reduce product variation and manufacturing cost (QA strategies)

•             Validation of existing manufacturing methods to increase robustness, manufacturing yield and reduce product variation and manufacturing cost (QA strategies)

•             Testing and validation of critical manufacturing sub-processes (low yield/high cost)

•             Identification of manufacturing failure modes and implementation of manufacturing control plans to redress these failure modes

Proposals under this topic need to identify the current baseline for technology specific gaps and to set ambitious targets for meeting critical cost, technical and manufacture / production parameters - and their improvement over the state of the art -  together with the development strategy and rationale for the proposed cell component, cell and stack development / manufacturing activities.

Expected impact: The expected outcome will need to include a substantial improvement over the state of the art of the following items:

•             Electrical efficiency of relevant individual components, and stacks over the state of the art

•             Robustness, including increased lifetime

•             Demonstration of the potential to achieve longer run times under relevant drive cycle conditions required to meet market entry requirements of 5,000 hours

•             Cost reductions consistent with market acceptance requirements for relevant transport applications for passenger vehicles of more than 500 €/kW down to 150 €/kW at the FC system level

•             Manufacturing methods in terms of yield and cost, reducing stack scrap rate (initially to 10% with the objective to reduce it to less than 5%)  by the end of the project

•             Decreased materials consumption or/and achieve a higher power density in line with progression from the minimum TRL 5 to TRL 6 or beyond

All projects must produce validated evidence of lifetimes, cost targets, high efficiencies throughout life and advances in manufacturing methods, sub and full assembly approaches and QA impacts.

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