The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) recently announced that its collaborative R&D teams have made advances in the manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells.
These teams are funded through an award from the Department of Energy, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells & Infrastructure Technologies Program. NCMS project teams bring together member companies to collaborate in the development of solutions for hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen storage manufacturing issues.
The team of UTC Power, a United Technologies company, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory successfully identified cost-effective manufacturing techniques for high-cost Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell components. The two are currently concluding selection of final designs and materials with the subcontractors who will produce the components.
This effort targets the movement of fuel cell component production out of the laboratory and into a high-volume production environment. Using the newly produced parts, performance tests will be conducted this spring. UTC Power has provided PEM fuel cell power plants for fleet transportation applications in the United States and Europe.
The NCMS collaborative team of Millennium Cell, The Dow Chemical Company, Edison Welding Institute and NextEnergy successfully developed manufacturing techniques for fuel cartridge components.
Initial pilot runs were successfully completed in December 2006 and the manufactured fuel cartridges were shipped to Jadoo Power Systems, Inc. for evaluation. Additional production runs will be conducted this month at Millennium Cell in Eatontown, NJ and additional cartridges will undergo further independent testing by the NextEnergy Center in Detroit, MI. Process validation should be complete this Spring.
The cartridges will provide hydrogen fuel for Jadoo’s 2.2 kWh XRT Extended Runtime Accessories targeted for use with emergency responders, Homeland Security, and “off-grid” power support applications in Columbia, SC.
Another team, Protonex Technology Corporation and Parker Energy Systems, addressed cost-effective manufacturing methods for high-reliability components of PEM fuel cells for portable applications by applying design-for-manufacturability principles.
Protonex’ fifth generation fuel cell stack architecture was optimized, and manufacturability of multiple 300-watt stacks was demonstrated using a novel, single-step production process. A significant reduction in part count and cycle time was realized.
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) is the largest cross-industry collaborative research and development consortium in North America, and is the only consortial effort in the US devoted exclusively to manufacturing technologies, processes and practices.