INNovative Cost Improvements for
BALANCE of Plant Components
of Automotive PEMFC Systems

INN-BALANCE 6th partner meeting prepares final testing of BoP components

During the meeting of the INN-BALANCE project in Graz, partners presented their work on engineering Balance of Plant components for a next-generation automotive fuel cell system. In line with the project’s goal to deliver components that take into account packaging constraints in a vehicle and manufacturing costs, the partners have adjusted some of the components’ designs and their positioning in the vehicle. Designs will be further evaluated by tests of the entire system. Another focus is now on fine tuning the overall operation and control strategy for the Balance of Plant, equilibrating efficiency and durability for each of the components.

The INN-BALANCE consortium members in front of the AVL Graz headquarters

AVL - a leading automotive engineering company based in Graz - hosted the European consortium meeting of the Horizon 2020/FCH JU funded project INN-BALANCE at the beginning of December. Main purpose of the two-day meeting was to report on latest component developments and coordinate the testing activities both at fuel cell system and vehicle levels, two core activities taking place during the last year of the project. With occasion of the meeting at AVL partners also had the chance to visit the company’s fuel cell testing labs, where also the INN-BALANCE anode module was assembled and tested. AVL develops a wide range of modular test beds which are used to precisely analyse the performance and durability of electric and ICE based vehicles.

Manufacturing oriented design of the components

Project partners presented the latest developments of the BoP components. While first development stages aimed to increase the performance and durability of the different components and to meet the fuel cell system and vehicle platform requirements, final development steps consist in investigating different design alternatives ensuring simple, fast and low-cost manufacturing. This is key to demonstrate that BoP components are suitable for cost efficient mass production, thus facilitating the market penetration of FECVs.

The brain of the fuel cell system: the control system

The control system plays a central role as it ensures safe and efficient operation of the fuel cell system at all working points. All industrial and academic partners of INN-BALANCE contribute to its development by providing dynamic models of the different fuel cell subsystems. At the project meeting, partner UPC presented the integrated fuel cell operation model, which also incorporates fuel cell degradation parameters. AVL will implement the model in a controller they developed.

Tests at system level and future integration in a vehicle powertrain

The different BoP components are currently being mounted in a test rig. INN-BALANCE Partner Powercell reported on the design of the FC stack POD that integrates several components and sensors, which had to be slightly modified to fit the dimensions of the vehicle where the fuel cell system will be implemented.

One of the main points of discussion in Graz was to define a testing agenda. It was agreed on organizing another partner meeting in Sweden in the first semester of 2020 to ensure a smooth testing process.

Additional information on the final tests can be found in our latest project newsletter.