Continental, TU Chemnitz inaugurate new fuel cell laboratory

terça-feira, julho 23, 2019

The heart of the new fuel cell laboratory is a high-performance test bench for the permanent testing of drive powers of up to 150 kilowatts. In the future, there will also be the option of converting the test bench to 300 kW. © TU Chemnitz / Photo: Jacob Müller

Continental AG is expanding its fuel cell technology sector. In strategic cooperation with the Chemnitz University of Technology Professorship of Advanced Powertrains (ALF), the newly established Fuel Cell Laboratory for Fuel Cell Technology was dedicated on 17 July.

With the installation of a large hydrogen tank in February 2019 at a laboratory belonging to the Professorship ALF, a central requirement for the expansion to more extensive measuring capabilities was put into place.

By working together with Continental AG as the largest industrial partner in the „HZwo – Antrieb für Sachsen“ Cluster of Innovation, the new Fuel Cell Materials Laboratory on the Chemnitz University of Technology campus is now one of the most modern H2 laboratories in Germany.

Hydrogen-based fuel cells have the potential to become an important part of the future of mobility. Therefore, we are intensifying our research and development efforts in this field. With Chemnitz University of Technology, we have gained an outstanding partner for the testing of materials, components and entire fuel cell systems. This continues a long series of successful collaborations with technical universities, and we are proud of this long tradition at Continental.

—Stephan Rebhan, Head of Technology and Innovation at Continental AG‘s Powertrain Division
The special technical equipment at the laboratory is unparalleled in the European university landscape. The heart of the new system is a high-performance test bench that accommodates permanent testing of powertrain performance up to 150 kilowatts. In the future, the test bench can also be converted up to 300kW. This lays the foundation for the development of next-generation fuel cells and fuel cell systems at Chemnitz University of Technology.

—Prof. Dr. Thomas von Unwerth, Chair of the Professorship ALF at Chemnitz University of Technology
In order to test the performance of the fuel cell under different conditions, the new test bench is able to simulate changing environmental conditions and workloads, something that is essential for assessing the performance of a hydrogen fuel cell.

The tests are carried out at different temperatures, pressure conditions and humidities, and additionally under simulation of different load requirements, such as weight or mountainous terrain. Initial measurement tasks having to do with research projects involving innovative materials for fuel cells are already underway, and are creating the basis for mass production of particularly efficient and economical components and elements.

Powertrain fuel cells are still struggling to deal with high costs. Therefore, one of the first two Continental projects in the fuel cell laboratory is dedicated to the development of new bipolar plates. These metallic plates are a central component of the fuel cell stack. They disperse gases and dissipate the current generated by their reaction.

The goal of the project is the preparation of a large-scale production of new bipolar plates with a higher energy density, which allows for smaller dimensions and overall makes more economical systems a possibility.

—Stephan Rebhan
In addition, controllers and control algorithms for the efficient operation of fuel cells will be developed during the course of a second project.

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