Porous layers play an important role in electrolyzers, because they not only regulate mass transport to and from the ion exchange membrane where catalysis takes place, but at the same time, they also ensure electrical conductivity so that the charge carriers reach the catalytically active layer. Therefore, on the one hand, the porous transport layer (PTL) must be permanently permeable to ensure mass transport. On the other hand, however, sufficient mechanical stability is required to provide adequate support for the inner membranes in the installation situation. Joined sandwich structures with sufficient reinforcement can meet such high requirements in the cells for corrosion and stiffness.
In its "HyInnoCells" research project, the Fraunhofer IPT is working with nine partners on the technologies for manufacturing such sandwich structures. Porous transport layers with coatings that protect against corrosion and reduce contact resistance are to be used in the production of the sandwich materials. An important project goal is to provide the technology for joining the various layers in the sandwich structure.
To this end, the Fraunhofer IPT is developing and evaluating concepts for scaling up and linking PTL manufacturing technologies. Continuous approaches such as roll-to-roll processes are evaluated and tested together with the consortium partners. A techno-economic evaluation of the PTL production lines serves to realistically assess the suitability of the new technologies for use.
Another important challenge is to reduce the use of catalyst material in order to lower the high production cost of electrolyzers. To this end, the project partners are researching catalyst alternatives that are suitable for both the substrates and the coatings and that meet the requirements for contact resistance, corrosion resistance and, where appropriate, catalytic activity.
PTJ Project Management Jülich
The research project "HyInnoCells – Flexible production of electrochemical cells" is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Funding code: 03ZU1115JB