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European INN-BALANCE project progressing with engineering a new generation of fuel cell auxiliary components

The European FCH JU-funded project INN-BALANCE (INNovative Cost Improvements for BALANCE of Plant Components of Automotive PEMFC Systems) partners are tasked with developing a new generation of highly-efficient fuel cell Balance of Plant (BoP) components. These components are intended to support an innovative fuel cell system and hence greatly improve the efficiency and the reliability of fuel cell powered vehicles, while reducing their cost.

More specifically, INN-BALANCE is developing:

  • a new air turbo-compressor

  • combined hydrogen injection and recirculation

  • advanced control and diagnosis devices

  • a new concept of thermal management

INN-BALANCE Components Innbalance1

As the efficiency of fuel cell powered vehicles depends on all components of the system being well-adjusted, INN-BALANCE also works on the smart integration of the newly developed components. An automotive fuel cell stack, with its novel components, will finally be incorporated into a vehicle powertrain to test its drivability, durability and performance.

INN-BALANCE is funded for three years (2017-2019) by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking in the framework of the European Union’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020.

Now approximately halfway through the project term, the partners are now beginning to look to integrating the various components they have developed separately.

Project partners have specified the fuel cell auxiliary components’ main parameters, interfaces and consolidating the overall fuel cell system design. The integrated hydrogen injector/ejector solution e.g. as well as several other innovative features conceived by INN- BALANCE are taking shape.

After one year of project activities important milestones have been reached regarding the definition of interfaces between components and the fuel cell stack as well as the design of the stack housing, and the anode, cathode and the cooling modules.

Among the BoP components the cooling module has the most complex interfaces.

The cooling module is responsible for the thermal management of the stack, which has significant influence on the water management and is critical in terms of performance and life time. Also, the Balance of Plant components have to be kept at optimal temperature and heat has to be supplied to the passenger cabin as needed.

—Joerg Weiss-Ungethuem, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), in charge of developing the cooling system

For the anode module INN-BALANCE develops an enhanced purge strategy, proposing an integrated injector/ejector solution that will maximize the power output from the stack, while minimizing hydrogen losses. The compact solution will take up little space and be able to operate without an energy-consuming mechanical recirculation pump.

The next significant steps will be the testing of a new air compressor prototype and the integration of all data in a comprehensive model for cost optimization.

Comments

HarveyD

One more project to develop better lower cost ways to mass produce more efficient lower cost fuel cells for future FCEVs including (cars, VUS, pick-ups, delivery trucks, large trucks, heavy and light machinery, trains, ships, airplanes and fixed power generation units).

Coupled with new membranes to separate high quality H2 from other gases, FCs may have a great future?

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