The "HyFab-BW" project is intended to create an open, flexible platform for companies in the plant engineering, automotive and supplier industries in which technologies for component production and component qualification can be researched and tested with regard to the fuel cell membrane electrode assembly. This includes further topics such as the investigation of the interrelationship between the material composition of a component or its material structure and its operating behavior. In concrete terms, the project will generate findings that will enable companies to transfer their product developments to series-ready production, depending on the application and fuel cell type.
HyFab is carried out by the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) (focusing on the cell stack) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (focusing on the membrane electrode unit).
The fuel cell industry is about to be scaled up to industrial mass production up to an expected number of 200,000 stacks per year from 2030. The HyFab project of the ZSW together with Fraunhofer ISE will prepare this upscaling with corresponding production research and accompany the market participants in their production development. For this purpose, in the first phase with the HyFab-BW project, an understanding of the fundamental interrelationships from process to material structure to operating behavior will be established. Building on this understanding of the interrelationship between process and structure and operating behavior, the analysis and development of high-speed processes and the associated online quality assurance will be carried out in a second project phase via a federally funded project HyFab-Bund. The aim of the two HyFab research projects is thus to establish a platform for production research from component to stack manufacture, which will offer the fuel cell industry opportunities for contract and collaborative research with regard to series production, including quality assurance.
Fraunhofer ISE focuses on the processes which concern the processing of the components catalyst powder, membrane, ionomer, frames and fiber mats, to form a complete membrane electrode assembly. The aim is to realize the process technologies relevant for these components on a laboratory scale and to clarify the relationship between the component composition and material structures as well as the operating properties of the components by means of extensive analytics (in-situ and ex-situ). For example, different material compositions in the MEA (consisting of catalyst powder, ionomer, solvent) combined with the different processes (dispersing, coating, drying, layer transfer, hot pressing) and different types of process control (e.g. temperature, pressing pressure, etc.) can produce different product properties that are suitable for different applications. In addition, there is a wide range of processes known for the individual process steps (e.g. for coating alone, processes such as slot die, microengraving printing, flexographic printing, or screen printing).