Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge:          A number of demonstration projects have already provided evidence about the maturity of fuel cell technology but further activities are necessary to fulfil automotive standards and requirements. As a result, it is clear that in order to enable high volume production of fuel cell systems for market entry scenarios of upcoming years, cost optimized, compact and efficient systems and system components as e.g. fuel cell stack, the air supply module, the anode module and the thermal management system are essential for the success of fuel cell based mobility solutions. Technology assessments suggest that there are still considerable potentials for improvements in terms of functionality, efficiency, manufacturability and cost for automotive application.

Scope:  The objective of this action is to develop low cost fuel cell system components for automotive application by adopting latest system and component level engineering methodologies and tools. All balance of plant components are addressed such as the air-cathode/exhaust module (air compressor/exhaust turbine), the anode module with recirculation, the air humidifier and processing unit as well as auxiliary components (valves, sensors, interfaces) for both reactant loops and the thermal management system and components. In order to exploit the results of projects on a broader basis, the analysis and development tools and environments further developed should be made applicable also for corresponding developments – particularly automated and accelerated testing procedures including related testing environments.

Components developed shall be tested and evaluated by dedicated component and system testing for automotive usage. After key component and system testing of some first samples the component shall be further developed towards the target for the automotive fuel cell system application. Further samples need to be built and tested on component and system level. Design-to-cost methodologies shall be applied to analyse cost and to identify cost reduction opportunities for further improvements of the respective components.

•             As an initial assessment a comparison of the relative merits of different technologies shall be performed by deploying advanced testing and simulation methods (on system and component level).

•             Particularly, the potential of new solutions in terms of packaging (improvement of gravimetric and volumetric power density), durability and low cost production should be addressed already in the virtual development phase by application of suitable tools (e.g. cost and reliability assessments).

•             Fuel cell component configurations shall demonstrate compliance with typical automotive environments, such as wide load range, high dynamics, shock and vibrations, sub-zero and hot environments, frequent start / stop cycles to achieve high reliability and long life as well as addressing energy density and efficiency criteria. Application of combined physical and virtual testing methodologies is encouraged.

•             The development activities on fuel cell BoP-components shall reflect the standard automotive development processes, leading to a possible continuation of the project to higher volume. These investigations should also include validation of reliability and durability targets envisaged by application of standard industrial methods. Test and comparison have to refer to a mid-class European car under typical certification and OEM test development cycles.

•             The new solutions for the components to be investigated have to show the potential for improvements of reliability on component and system level. Particularly the interaction of the newly developed components and subsystems with the fuel cell stack regarding the extension of durability and the elimination of critical degradation processes should be part of the validation - preferably proved by dedicated diagnostic devices. Such diagnostic techniques could potentially be also part of later on-board-diagnostics (OBD).

The project shall also provide advanced analysis and concepts for further system simplification, ease of manufacturing and cost reduction reflecting typical automotive volumes. Along with the components, also development and production environments should be applied and identified regarding subsequent mass products.

Expected impact:             The main impacts are:

•             Verification of components on test stations

•             Validation of components on the level of a fuel cell system

•             Prototyping demonstration in a relevant end-to-end environment

Outputs from the project should be aligned with the following technical targets for a fuel cell system:

•             Power   (align with output from “AUTO-Stack”)  80 kW

•             High voltage                                                                                       380 - 430 VDC

•             Low voltage                                                                                        9-16 VDC

•             Lifetime                                                                                               6,000 hrs and beyond

•             Ambient temperature                                                                   -40 … +50°C

•             Freezing capability                                                                           -40°C

•             Freeze start (reliable)                                                                    -25°C

Technical key targets for the air/exhaust management module

•             Turbine inlet                                                                                      wet air (100 % rel. humidity)

•             Turbine inlet temperature                                                           approx. 80°C

•             Pressure ratio                                                                                    < 3.5

•             Dynamics idle to max power                                                       < 800 ms

•             Efficiency                                                                                             > 85 %

•             Power density                                                                                   > 0.5 kW/kg

Technical key targets for the anode module including auxiliaries

•             Hydrogen feed temperature                                                      -40°C to +95°C

•             Pressure level hydrogen feed inlet                                          9 - 12 bar absolute

•             Pressure level recirculation loop                                               1.2 - 3.5 bar absolute

Technical key targets for the air humidifier

•             Temperature                                                                                     -40°C - +120°C   

•             Pressure                                                                                              1.0 – 3.0 bar absolute

Technical key targets for auxiliary components on the air side

•             Temperature                                                                                     -40°C to +95°C

•             Pressure level                                                                                   1.0 - 3.0 bar absolute

•             Humidity downstream the humidifier                                     30 - 50% rel. humidity

Technical key targets for the advanced thermal management system

•             Ambient temperature                                                                   -40 … +50°C

•             Freezing capability                                                                           -40°C

•             Freeze start (reliable)                                                                    -25°C

•             Cooling capability in FC continuous operation      100 kW at 45°C ambient temp


•             Automotive development methods, design to cost, reliability and robustness methods.

•             Detailed component level simulation for analysis and optimization (e.g. of multiphase transport and phase transition processes including multi-component diffusion and mixing phenomena of humidifiers etc.)

•             Sub-system and system level simulation for component specification and assessment of overall performance of different component configurations

•             Automated-/hardware-in-the-loop-/accelerated testing methods

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