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MAHLE Powertrain and Bramble Energy launch Phase 1 PCBFC demonstrator vehicle; range-extended EV

MAHLE Powertrain and Bramble Energy have agreed to continue their collaboration to develop Bramble’s Printed Circuit Board Fuel Cell (PCBFC) hydrogen fuel cell technology. (Earlier post.) The phase 1 demonstrator vehicle was launched at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle show. Bramble Energy’s innovative PCBFC technology significantly reduces the manufacturing cost of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains.


Hydrogen fuel cells offer an alternative to the heavy batteries and long recharge times that other electric vehicle technologies suffer from, and that makes them particularly relevant to the commercial vehicle sector as it looks to meet net zero CO2 emissions targets. Our work with Bramble Energy has demonstrated that their innovative PCBFC technology represents a cost-effective route to the adoption of fuel cell propulsion for commercial vehicles.

—Dr. Mike Bassett, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of research & advanced engineering

While conventional fuel cell stacks rely on stamped plates to hold the various layers, Bramble Energy’s approach leverages PCB manufacturing technology, which can be produced cheaply, in virtually any shape using flexible production techniques.

MAHLE Powertrain was chosen as the project’s integration partner due to its decade-long experience in powertrain technology integration and its expertise in EV control systems and thermal management. Its recent Memorandum of Understanding with Bramble strengthens the duo’s relationship ahead of the development of the phase 2 demonstrator.

The phase 1 results of the collaboration are based around a Renault Kangoo ZE delivery vehicle that sees a 5 kW Bramble Energy fuel cell integrated into the powertrain acting as a range extender. Future development will focus on creating a derivative with a higher power output and increased overall efficiency.



This sort of technology answers a lot of the issues I have with the idea of big batteries as the sole solution to low carbon transport.
They problem is that batteries are not reducing in cost and weight anything like as fast as batteries everywhere advocates imagine.

Here is a 'survey of surveys':


' Further, the researchers consolidated 360 extracted data points into a pack cost trajectory that reaches a level of about $70 (kWh)−1 in 2050, and 12 technology-specific forecast ranges that indicate cost potentials below $90 (kWh)−1 for advanced lithium-ion and $70 (kWh)−1 for lithium-metal based batteries. '

So for 2050 we have costs for a BEV with decent range of the order of $4900, the sort of price of a cheap car in places like India where the growth in car ownership will heavily increase.

This is compounded by two issues:

The first is ramping up critical materials fast enough to carry out a fast switch to all BEVs

The second is that the overwhelming majority of people have nowhere at all that they can reasonably plug in.

So I would suggest that a variety of solutions are preferable, with a variety of compromises.

Here is one, an ICE RE capable of running either on gasoline or methanol, in the latter case without emissions other than CO2, but even then with a substantial plug in capability only needing it on a run, which is the bit which makes users lug around hundreds of kilos of batteries, which in reality with present toxic emissions now overwhelmingly from road dust and tire wear, mean that a big, fat, heavy BEV in running emissions as well as production is one of the most polluting cars on the road, not the least, save of course for the weasel worded 'comparable ICE cars' which means non hybrid, having equally 'ludicrous' acceleration and so on.



My 2019 Leaf, model S, 40 kWh battery has a cell density of 224 Wh/kg and the battery weigh about 660 lbs. This battery's range is about 150 miles on a full charge; This car works fine for our personal use.
The idea that BEVs will meet all the World transportation needs has yet to be proven and I expect there will be applications that call for the continuation of ICEs for some time, some even for decades. BEVs work great for personal transportation and as battery tech advances, will only get better.
Long hauling and low- weight applications are another whole segment of consideration and at present appear to be open for hydrogen fuel cell and/or direct hydrogen combustion development; but, only if someone decides to do the development.


I do not understand their comments on stamping. Stamping is an incredibly low cost and productive method of production. The only way printed circuit board technology could be lower cost is for making prototype where the cost of tooling would need to amortized over a small run.

They apparently only need to have 5 kW average power so why not just use a 50 or 60 kWhr battery and be done with it. The energy cost would be far less, the maintenance would be less and probably the initial cost would be less and maybe most important, you would not need to deal with the problems of using hydrogen.


I think that the survey of surveys that you referenced shows the problems of making projections when you do not know enough about future developments. Imagine projecting the cost and size of a cell phone before transistors let alone integrated circuits were available. I think that we are already close to their projected cost for 2040 or 2050. I believe that by 2025 or so we will have lithium sulfur which uses lower cost materials and has a much high energy density.



Lithium sulfur is a whole different ball game, just coming out of the labs, and this sort of survey does not cover them.

The costs they give for current batteries are I believe realistic, as they are limited by the cost of the materials.

That is one of the reasons that I am against the deeply regressive tax breaks for present generation BEVs, as the chemistries they are using do not lead on to something most people can afford, but are essentially a dead end for mass transport if any decent range is required.


Forget Li-S.


This innovation tops them all. The aviation industry has been long awaiting such a revelation.

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