Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are making significant strides in the optimization of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) production. Under the collaborative initiatives “TiKaBe” and “BI-FIT,” the institute is developing groundbreaking catalyst inks for industrial coating processes and streamlining the fuel cell break-in procedure, respectively. These efforts are poised to revolutionize the landscape of fuel cell technology.
In the “TiKaBe” project (Ink Development for Fuel Cell Catalyst Coating), Fraunhofer ISE is pioneering novel catalyst inks tailored for diverse industrial coating methods, with a focus on reducing drying times. This research aims to yield long-lasting membrane electrode units with minimal precious metal content. The team is investigating the slot-die coating process for its suitability in industrial applications due to its uniform and continuous coating capabilities. Future prospects also encompass inkjet, engraving, and screen printing techniques, allowing structured layers that minimize waste and material losses.
Simultaneously, the “BI-FIT” project (Break-In for Fuel Cells Initializing and Testing) delves into the crucial process of initializing fuel cell stacks. The objective is to comprehend the pivotal mechanisms involved in the initial conditioning, with an aim to drastically shorten the break-in period and simplify the procedure. The current break-in methods are time-intensive, constituting a significant bottleneck and cost factor in fuel cell production. By redefining the break-in process, the researchers aspire to trim it to a maximum duration of 60 minutes or one percent of total production costs.
The Fraunhofer ISE team is set to share their recent insights and advancements at the international hy-fcell expo and conference, scheduled for September 13-14, 2023, in Stuttgart. At Booth 4D55, the institute will showcase membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) designed for heavy-duty applications, alongside their work on cell component characterization and lifetime testing.
The “TiKaBe” and “BI-FIT” projects receive financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport through the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). This strategic funding underscores the pivotal role of Fraunhofer ISE in driving transformative developments in the renewable energy sector.