The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Stuttgart hosted the European consortium meeting of the Horizon 2020/FCH JU funded project INN-BALANCE end of June. Main purpose of the two-day meeting was to take stock of activities carried out within the project since the beginning of this year. Partners reported on the ongoing tests of the fuel cell Balance of Plant components developed in INN-BALANCE and, looking ahead to the later vehicle integration of components, discussed the optimum placing of components. A special highlight of the agenda was the DLR lab tour, which allowed partners to have a look at the test benches where the INN-BALANCE thermal management and freeze start concept are examined.
The goal of INN-BALANCE is to develop cost-effective, durable and efficient Balance of Plant components, which are pivotal for the functioning of an automotive fuel cell stack. Engineering challenges addressed in the project concern the anode and cathode module, the anti-freeze and thermal management as well as the overall control system of the fuel cell system.
Tests provide greater understanding of key parameters
Important take-aways from test cycles so far include greater understanding of material properties, precision of parameters and a more detailed picture of the different operation modes and system states, which are in particular relevant for the overall control strategy of the fuel cell. Concerning the thermal management, tests of DLR evaluated different strategies for improving cold-start of fuel cell electric vehicles in temperatures down to below -40 °C. According to recent results the use of an anti-freeze agent for cold-start is promising for deicing the stack and thawing it to optimum operation temperature, while avoiding its lasting damage through ice formation within.
System level tests will follow individual components tests
After tests on the individual component level are evaluated, results will feed into the testing of the components within the fuel cell system. These system level tests shall confirm components collude to deliver steady performance of the stack and prepare their integration into a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.
Moreover, INN-BALANCE will pay special attention to the cost and efficiency-oriented design of each component module; all serving the goal of INN-BALANCE to deliver manufacturing-ready components and support the market uptake of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles for a clean energy future.