MAHLE expands research in fuel cell technologies
The companies that are defining the mobility of the future must respond quickly to changing conditions.
This is the only way to bring new technologies to economic viability and series production internal structures and bundling the expertise of various development fields in one fuel cell project house. This is a place where all fuel cell topics come together.
The importance of an overall system perspective for the safety and competitiveness of fuel cell vehicles can be illustrated by simulating the dynamics of fuel cells in interplay with battery size or by the reciprocal development of ion exchangers and heat exchangers. The air pathway, also known as the cathode air system, is one of the central systems in the periphery of the fuel cell. The relationships and interactions are complex and can only be predicted through elaborate simulations.
The team at the fuel cell project house analyses the results and defines the design of the peripheral components, which leads to a cost-optimised vehicle. MAHLE is transferring expertise from a wide variety of research and development areas of conventional mobility to the fuel cell project house, enabling thermal, air, and liquid management and filtration to work together purposefully.
Another example of close interaction among various development centres is the joint development of heat exchangers and ion exchangers. This is where technical expertise in the areas of thermal management and filtration comes together. The coolant used to cool fuel cell stacks must be deionised so that it loses its electrical conductivity. If it were conductive, then not only could explosive gas form, but undesired and dangerous currents could be discharged.
The deionised cooling medium flows through the bipolar plates of the fuel cell to cool it. The deionised cooling medium is highly reactive, however, and corrodes components that come into contact with it, so this must be avoided. For this reason, MAHLE passivates the heat exchanger and makes it resistant to leaching ions. This produces a durable cooling system and reduces the load on the ion exchanger, ensuring high-voltage safety under all conditions.
The exhaust air pathway in the fuel cell vehicle also requires extensive expertise. An intelligent system for water disposal ensures that water disposal occurs only at high speeds. This prevents water from freezing in awkward locations, such as in parking garages or inner cities. The water that is discharged at high speeds is atomised. This functional integration is typical of the development of engine components as an overall system at MAHLE, combining expertise from the areas of engine peripherals, flow simulation, and filtration.