The Need to Drive Down Costs
At the moment, the manufacture of fuel cell stacks in the UK is a bespoke process, often limited in both volume and size. It requires significant expertise and technical proficiency, which makes it difficult to produce fuel cells cost-efficiently or manufacture them at scale.
The HySMART project aims to drive down the costs associated with producing hydrogen fuel cell stack products by fostering the development of a high-volume manufacturing strategy. The results would benefit automotive applications and provide practical and economical solutions to the electrification of larger transportation markets.
Introducing New Technologies into Fuel Cell Manufacture
HySMART takes an innovative approach by introducing robotics and inline testing into how fuel cell stack products are manufactured, with the aim of building towards high-volume manufacturing capability. Key aspects of the project are the development, integration and application of robotics, software controls, and machine learning solutions for producing fuel cell stack technologies.
HSSMI’s experience in process development and technology upscaling for volume manufacture, in particular, has been relevant and useful in attaining the project ambitions. HSSMI designed real-time manufacturing simulation scenarios, where unique technological innovations for the manufacture of fuel cell stacks could be tested. In addition to this, HSSMI also took on the responsibility for managing the delivery of the project and disseminating its findings.
Benefits for the Wider Industry
The project culminated in a comprehensive demonstrator study, which detailed advanced product designs and validated key technical challenges. It analysed the development of fuel cell components (e.g. design for assembly and disassembly), the installation and implementation of robotics processes and inline testing capability, as well as the optimal production of high quality fuel cell stacks for light and medium duty vehicle applications.
The project will provide stakeholders with the operational and technical requirements of using advanced robotics in fuel cell stack volume manufacture. It will deliver advanced testing capabilities for the entire fuel cell supply chain, ultimately leading to opportunities for manufacturing fuel cells at reduced cost, scale, and of higher quality.
HySMART is a collaborative project between Bramble Energy, Loop Technology, Microcab Industries, UCL, and HSSMI. It is funded by the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) and facilitated by Innovate UK.
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