New Energy Vehicles - "NEVs" have become one of the key measures to achieve the climate goals that have been set. Hydrogen will play an important role as an energy carrier. This can be produced from renewable energies in electrolysers in a CO2-neutral way and then in turn converted into electrical energy in fuel cells. Especially in freight transport, fuel cells can show their advantages over battery electric vehicles (BEV). But there are also many future areas of application for fuel cells in stationary use.
Our fuel cell manufacturing solutions
Efficient cycle times and absolute precision are crucial in fuel cell production. Our systems cover all process steps from component production and stack assembly to the finished fuel cell system. The modular, scalable design of the systems enables them to be individually adapted to the production capacity envisaged by the customer.
The major goal is to reduce the manufacturing costs of fuel cells in order to make the use of these technologies more economical. However, this can only be achieved through scaling effects, which require fully automated plants with correspondingly high capacities. At the moment, this type of production plant is not yet available on the market and the design of the components must also continue to be optimised with regard to an automation-compatible design.
We want to master these challenges together with our customers. Adapting the component design in combination with completely rethought assembly processes is the key to achieving this. With international teams of product and production specialists from renowned institutes and industrial partners, we are already working on machine solutions for fuel cell production.
Manufacturing solutions for BPP
The gasket geometry and the exact, repeatable positioning of the gasket have a decisive influence on the stack formation and the pressing of the stack.
In addition to dispensing, we also offer injection moulding together with our partners to apply the seal to metallic or graphite seals. In addition to a two- or three-dimensional measurement of the seal bead, the system can be equipped with a leak test. This ensures a 100% output test.
The main challenge in stack formation is the precise positioning of bendable components with sensitive surfaces. ruhlamat can benefit here from its many years of expertise in the production of RFID inlays, in which, among other things, several thin foils must be placed on top of each other with dimensional accuracy.
In addition to a semi-automated assembly solution for small series, with an annual production capacity of approx. 3,000 stacks/a (reference 330 cells), we also offer a fully automated solution for an annual production capacity of up to 50,000 stacks/a. Here, too, the focus is on scalability and the ability to upgrade the production plant at a later date.
Press and fix
This is where ruhlamat's own Vario servo presses come into play. After the force-displacement monitored pretensioning of the stack, the fuel cell stack is leak tested. The stack is then either screwed together or fixed with straps. We offer partially or fully automated solutions for both variants.
Test systems for fuel cells and their components
As is well known, even one defective cell in a stack can lead to system failure. Therefore, a continuous, uninterrupted quality assurance of all components, as well as a final EOL test of the stack, is a necessary prerequisite to guarantee the performance of the fuel cell.
In addition to image processing systems (e.g. detection of surface defects in coatings) and leak tests, the coherent tracking and evaluation of all process parameters is an essential component of the QA system.
Balance of Plant
Balance-of-Plant (BoP) refers to all components of a fuel cell system except the stack itself. These are, among others, voltage transformers, air mass meters, pressure sensors, turbochargers and pumps.
Ruhlamat can contribute its many years of automation expertise in this area for all the above-mentioned components.