Fuel Cell Plates

AP&T offers solutions for large-scale and cost-efficient production of fuel cell plates. The technology is based on our extensive experience of heat exchanger plates, which are manufactured in a similar manner. The differences primarily concern how thick the material is and how stacking is done.

Production line solution

Fuel cell plates manufactured with an AP&T line solution are primarily used in fuel cells with PEM technology. The lines are built with standardized modules from AP&T and are based on our experience of producing heat exchanger plate production lines. Combining our lines and our know-how with a high velocity impact unit from Cell Impact results in a line design with a high level of sheet metal utilization.

Starting from a coil of stainless steel with or without coating, the material, which is 0.1 mm thick, is processed through the forming and cutting operations in the press line, and is ultimately transformed into one pair of plates (one bipolar plate). The forming operation is performed in a dedicated tool designed to operate with Cell Impact’s high velocity impact unit. When the sheet is formed by this high velocity unit, the forming possibilities are dramatically increased and the material is utilized much more efficiently than in conventional forming.

AP&T’s transfer system, Cell Impact’s high velocity unit, the unique tool design and AP&T’s automation system all secure a high degree of accuracy in every step of the process. Short cycle times and a high level of reliability are also results. After the plates are trimmed, they are placed in pairs and joined into a bipolar plate by the automated system. To secure accuracy in the laser welding operation, the plates are pre-joined.

Growing interest in fuel cells

Are fuel-cell operated cars ready for a commercial breakthrough? Some of the largest car manufacturers have already taken the step and launched fuel cell operated cars on the market, and more are certainly to follow. The advantages – including basically exhaust-free driving – have been well known for quite some time, but commercialization has been slow due to the high costs, until recently. Development of more cost-efficient manufacturing methods and a gradual expansion of hydrogen gas filling stations, however, are now paving the way for continued expansion in several countries.

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