Reaching higher ranges with zero emissions: Automotive and aviation industry are increasingly focusing on alternative forms of propulsion and are also considering hydrogen-powered fuel cells. The storage of hydrogen in mobile tanks enables fuel cell vehicles to drive ranges that are significantly higher compared to battery electric vehicles. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT is working on new concepts for mass production of fuel cell components in order to reduce the currently high manufacturing costs and to research new hydrogen-electric drives for the mobility market.
An increased production volume offers potential for a reduction of the manufacturing costs. Therefore, one objective of the "FlyGO" project is the conception of a production chain suitable for large-scale manufacturing. Bipolar plates account for a significant share of the weight and production costs of a fuel cell stack. Therefore the "FlyGO" project focusses on increasing the efficiency of the high-volume production of metallic bipolar plates.
For the forming of metallic bipolar plates, the localized heat treatment of the sheet metals is analyzed. Using different heating technologies, the forming process of bipolar plate materials like stainless steel and especially titanium is optimized. In order to understand the influence of the process parameters for the heating of these thin metal sheets, simulations for the heating process are developed. Different forming technologies are analyzed experimentally and evaluated regarding their forming quality and automation possibilities.
Additionally to the reduction of costs for fuel cell production, two other topics are developed within the project consortium in "FlyGO". PEM fuel cells are optimized regarding their power density in order to prepare the use of fuel cells in aviation applications. Therefore, advanced flow fields and different cooling concepts of a hydrogen based fuel cell in combination with a methanol electrolyzer are researched. For automotive applications, a fuel cell is integrated into a battery electric vehicle as range extender. The project ends with the manufacturing and testing of a full-scale PEM fuel cell stack based on bipolar plates that have been formed, welded and coated by the project consortium.