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Future European Fuel Cell Technology: Fit for Automatic Manufacturing and Assembly

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Fit-4-AMandA (Future European Fuel Cell Technology: Fit for Automatic Manufacturing and Assembly)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2020-11-30

Fuel cell technology is still considered (even more than at the time of the start of the project) one of the key technologies for zero-emission transport and renewable energy infrastructure in Europe.
OEMs and Tier1 suppliers are currently looking for new solutions on a massive scale, several EU-funded projects aim to demonstrate the integration of fuel cells in private and public vehicles. Efforts with regard to the suitability for mass production are becoming a massive focus of attention, as this is the only way to meet the enormous demands of the future in terms of both unit numbers and cost perspectives (unit price).
In its 45 months lifetime the Fit-4-AMandA project faced several challenges related to these aspects offering suitable solutions and providing perspective for future automatic stack production.
The project demonstrated:
• A new bipolar plate (BPP) and membrane electrode assembly (MEA) design suitable for mass production
• Automatic machine able to deliver fuel cell stacks at high rate and low costs (can we add the estimated costs here?)
• Inline Quality control systems
• Integration of the developed stack in a public vehicle
Further testing activities are still ongoing and the partners (PM, Aumann) are commitment to further optimise the machine in order to improve performances and reduce costs.
Below is reported a min list of the project results and linked route for exploitation/dissemination (more information is reported in the technical annex):
• The formulation of the specifications of requirements for the automatic machine that will be producing stacks, which is the centrepiece of the fuel cell systems KPIs for new generation H2 vehicles (partners: UPS, PM, Aumann, Fraunhofer IWU)
• New and improved stack designs and concepts have been investigated, assessed and developed with a special view to high flexibility and mass production suitability in terms of easy processability and manageability in the mass manufacturing machine MMM (partners: PM, Aumann, IRD).
• Key production parameters of the IRD BPP manufacturing line have been recorded and compiled new product for commercialisation, lower costs (IRD)
• A bipolar plate press tool set consisting of all necessary parts to produce anode and cathode half-plates with the new design have been produced. new product for commercialisation (IRD)
• Collection of all the specifications related to the FC stack product, the machine design, the machine parameters and processing steps, as well as the quality control measures. Know-how for new product and broader market application (Aumann, PM)
• The fuel cell stack design was adapted according to the process requirements of automated manufacturing, assembly, transportation, handling, image processing and testing. Know-how for new product and broader market application (PM)
• A complete machine system with several sub module for the automated production of these fuel cell stacks has been build-up, commissioned at the manufacturer’s site with dummy parts. Know-how for new product and broader market application (Aumann, Fraunhofer IWU)
• Provide a list of methods suitable for the fast in-line tests of fuel-cell components and subassemblies. Know-how for new methods and possible application (TUC)
• A feasibility study to determine the applicability of the fuel cell technology for a commercial FC electrical vehicles has been carried out Validated prototype for possible future commercial use (PM)
• A hybridisation concept for an ideal balancing of the components fuel cell, battery, hydrogen tank size, tank pressure and a control strategy were developed for an ideal operation performance of a target vehicle application.
• A fuel cell systems equipped with the new stack design was designed, packaged and tailored into the specific vehicle application (PM)
• Integration of the fuel cell system into a battery electric vehicle was carried out. Validated prototype for possible future commercial use (PM)
Even if the project faced in Period 2 and period3 different critical challenges and delay, the consortium is still deeply convinced of the social-economic impact Fit-4-AMandA will have (the scientific and commercial collaboration among some partners will continue beyond the project lifetime in order to maxime the impact). Below a summary of the achieve impact:

1. Improved PEM Fuel Cell Stack designs (for mass production), capable of being ready for future progresses have been developed.
2. Built-up fuel cell stack mass manufacturing machine is a kind of unique. The announcement of the machine and some details have aroused great interest from the industry. This is reflected, among other things, in increased demand both from the manufacturer of the machine, Aumann, and from the experts for in-line measurement methodology at Chemnitz Technical University, Fraunhofer IWU and Proton Motor itself. These consequences are far-reaching and have a lasting impact on the company's success and the institute's reputation.
3. Built-up a fuel cell system equipped with the first mass manufactured stack from the mass manufacturing machine. This fuel cell system was tailored for a heavy duty application and is being implemented in a garbage truck as target application to be suitable in a daily operation of a potential customer.
4. Development of a suite of sufficiently fast and conclusive methods to be implemented as in-line as well as end-of-the-line tests, while minimise the time necessary to perform and evaluate the tests were very well received by the industry. Close relationships and cooperations have been established between manufacturers of measurement methods and users of the developed methods from the fuel cell world. Manufacturers of measurement methods have taken up the topic and are currently developing new methods adapted to the specific requirements of fuel cells manufacturing industry.
The extensive dissemination activities have also triggered a number of other activities: for example, industries previously not involved in the field are now in close contact with fuel cell manufacturers, OEMs and stakeholders. A large number of other workshops on the topics we addressed were also initiated by various parties.
Fit-4_AMAndA system
Detail of MMM