Fuel Cell and Electrolysis Membrane Production

The membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is the electrochemical heart of fuel cells and electrolysers, where water is split into oxygen and hydrogen in electrolyzers using current and voltage, and where hydrogen is converted into electricity, heat and product water in fuel cells. The ramp-up of the fuel cell and electrolyser economy requires a comprehensive understanding of the optimal, efficient and sustainable production of MEAs.

Our production research covers the entire value chain, from catalyst powder up to a full-scale 7-layer MEA, including quality control. We investigate the impact of process design and parameters, materials and component architecture on the cost, quality and performance of MEAs. We focus on laboratory-scale manufacturing processes with well-defined conditions - typically with sheet-to-sheet production - as well as industrial-scale processes such as roll-to-roll for mass production.

With our production research on MEA, we want to support, optimize and accelerate the establishment of industrial mass production.


We offer:

  • design of membrane electrode assemblies
  • evaluation of machines, components and materials (raw materials, pastes and inks, membranes)
  • development of pastes and inks, including homogenization and characterization
  • development of processes and quality assurance methods along the entire MEA value chain
  • ex-situ and in-situ characterization of layers and cell components
  • techno-economic evaluation of production processes


Your benefits:

  • Our many years’ experience in industry-related process technologies, from catalyst powder to membrane electrode assemblies, ensures a high level of confidence in the transfer of our results to your production process.
  • We can offer you the testing of new materials, components, designs and processes without any disruption to your production.
  • We manufacture components in small batches for testing purposes when the batch size is too small for industrial facilities.

Our R&D Services along the Production Steps of MEAs

MEA-Production: Solvent Mixing
© Fraunhofer ISE / Foto: Dirk Mahler
1. Solvent Mixing: Different solvents are mixed and weighed with the ionomer dispersion according to a designed recipe. We offer research services for solvent and ionomer mixing.
MEA-Production: Addition of the catalyst powder
© Fraunhofer ISE
2. Addition of the catalyst powder to the solvent and ionomer dispersion inside nitrogen atmosphere in a glovebox. We investigate the catalyst ink formulation with respect to different coating technologies.
MEA-Production: Mixing process
© Fraunhofer ISE
3. Within the glovebox, the mixing process and first dispersing steps are conducted to break up agglomerates within the catalyst ink. We develop catalyst ink mixing processes.
MEA-Production: catalyst ink is dispersed
© Fraunhofer ISE
4. The catalyst ink is dispersed with an ultrasonic rod, to further reduce the agglomerates. We analyze ink homogenisation processes to break up agglomerates.
MEA-Production: slot die coating
© Fraunhofer ISE / Foto: Dirk Mahler
5. The catalyst layer is produced by slot die coating onto a decal transfer foil. For control of the platinum-loading, volume flow, coating velocity and solid content can be adjusted. We develop optimized coating processes and process parameters.
MEA-Production: continuous convection oven
© Fraunhofer ISE
6. The wet catalyst layer is dried within a continuous convection oven on top of a metal drying carrier. We investigate and improve processes for drying wet catalyst layers.
MEA-Production: printing technologies
© Fraunhofer ISE / Foto: Dirk Mahler
7. At Fraunhofer ISE, different printing technologies are available to produce catalyst layers: screen printing, slot die coating, inkjet printing, flexographic and gravure printing. We offer research on both laboratory sheet-to-sheet and industrial roll-to-roll processes.
MEA-Production: optical analysis
© Fraunhofer ISE / Foto: Dirk Mahler
8. Each catalyst layer is optically analyzed to quantify the number and size of defects, which can result from agglomerates, air bubbles or cracks. We develop quality control methods for the entire value chain from catalyst powder to MEA.
MEA-Production: Roll Calander
© Fraunhofer ISE
9. The roll calander is used to transfer the two electrodes (anode and cathode) onto the membrane. We investigate the transfer quality and the impact on the catalyst layer during process parameter variations.
MEA-Production: transfer process
© Fraunhofer ISE
10. After hot pressing, both decal foils are peeled off to create the CCM (catalyst coated membrane), also called 3-layer MEA. We evaluate the peel-off process with respect to the transfer quality.
MEA-Production: 5-layer MEA
© Fraunhofer ISE
11. The CCM is cutted to the right dimensions and positioned between two subgaskets, which both have only the active area taken out. This is called 5-layer MEA. We analyze the lamination and CCM cutting processes.
MEA-Production: 7-layer MEA
© Fraunhofer ISE
12. The ports for gas flow of the subgaskets are opened and the GDL (gas diffusion layer) is applied on both sides. This is the last production step, resulting in a 7-layer MEA. We analyze the GDL cutting and application processes.

Virtual Tour

Production Research Lab for Membrane Electrode Assemblies



Production Research on Membrane Electrode Assemblies

Upscaling Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers

Research Projects on the Topic Fuel Cell and Electrolysis Membrane Production




Research Factory for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells



Series production of mobile fuel cells: Research platform for the roll-to-roll production of MEAs



Ink Development for Fuel Cell Catalyst Coating



Break-In for Fuel Cells Initializing and Testing



Quality Assurance in the Industrial Production of Fuel Cell CCMs

More Information on this Topic

R&D Infrastructure

Fuel Cell Lab

Research Topic

Fuel Cell

Research Topic

Electrolysis and Hydrogen Infrastructure