Fuel cell technology is regarded as one of the key technologies in the energy revolution. The aim of the CoBiP project is to develop a production technology suitable for continuous manufacture of bipolar plates, one of the central components of a fuel cell.
The production of bipolar plates remains generally complex and is associated with high costs: This stems from expensive materials coupled with often complex transport and handling steps for forming, joining and coating processes. As part of the "CoBiP" project, the Fraunhofer IPT is developing an integrated system for cost-efficient production of bipolar plates that will bring together the individual steps involved in their production: This system will be based on the modular roll-to-roll process developed by the Fraunhofer IPT, combining roll forming, laser welding and cutting processes as well as coating in continuous production. The manufacturing technology is suitable for forming the microgeometry of metallic foils of less than 100 μm in thickness, within defined aspect ratios. This enables various designs of bipolar plates for fuel cells to be produced regardless of the material used.
The modular structure of the system and the integration of each individual process step in a continuous production chain guarantees high process and cost efficiency: The automated production of bipolar plates in a continuous roll-to-roll process will provide a robust and replicable process, capable of achieving high volume production with constant product quality. The new manufacturing processes promise less costly bipolar plates, which are among the principal cost drivers in fuel cells in conjunction with higher quality, resource and energy efficiency compared with other energy converters at all system levels. The "CoBiP" research project will thus contribute to the cost-effective expansion of the next generation powertrain via this new production technology - as an important part of the shift towards sustainable and, at the same time highly competitive production.