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Comau to deliver high-speed automation solutions for fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturers; increasing volumes, decreasing costs

Comau, part of Stellantis, is integrating its technology and automation expertise to manage the assembly and production of fuel cell components and electrolyzers. Comau’s portfolio includes technology and systems for electric, hybrid and traditional vehicle manufacturing, industrial robots, collaborative and wearable robotics, autonomous logistics, dedicated machining centers and interconnected digital services and products able to transmit, elaborate and analyze machine and process data.

Comau is developing a proprietary solutions portfolio to automate key process steps, including fuel cell preparation and stacking, leak testing and more, as part of its commitment to lowering the price point of fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturing. By helping industrialize the traditionally manual manufacturing environment, Comau expects to reduce manufacturing costs by up to 20%.

In China, Comau is collaborating with Shanghai Hydrogen Propulsion Technology (SHPT), a hydrogen fuel cell company, to provide an advanced production line for its hydrogen fuel cell stack. Similarly, and among other projects, the company is pursuing opportunities to design, produce and sell hydrogen solutions for light and heavy-duty vehicles and an electrolyzer manufacturing pilot project in the EMEA region, and opportunities in Oceania.

All these projects aim to industrialize the largely manual manufacturing environment, which will both scale-up production volumes and increase the quality of the high-precision process.

SHPT is a holding subsidiary of SAIC Motor, the hydrogen fuel cell products of which are used in passenger cars, buses, light, medium and heavy trucks, forklifts, trailers and for many other applications. Hydrogen fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies can also be extended to distributed power generation and cogeneration, as well as ships, aviation and other non-automotive sectors.

Comau’s collaboration with SHPT for the fuel cell stack production line represents the company’s first project in China in the hydrogen energy field. As part of the project, Comau will develop and deploy its proprietary high-speed, high-precision multi-axis stacking technology to perform a series of pole piece stacking operations simultaneously.

With delivery scheduled for the end of 2022, the solution manages pick-up, code scanning, secondary positioning, and shell loading, all within 4 seconds. As such, Comau will help SHPT achieve several of its production goals, including improving its annual stack production capacity, via the fully automating stacking stations.

According to internal estimates, which are based on data provided by IEA and IHS, Comau predicts hydrogen use will double over the next decade, largely driven by new applications such as mobility and energy storage. Green Hydrogen generation will also boost the demand for electrolyzers, from an estimated 120 MW installed in 2020 to more than 20 GW expected in 2030.

In terms of fuel cells, Comau estimates the market will grow exponentially, from a few thousand fuel cell units deployed in 2020 to 1.2M units by 2030, equivalent to more than 100 GW of hydrogen energy.


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