Increasing the Cost-Competitiveness of Fuel Cell Technology for the Automotive Industry

Image: © Bramble Energy


The feasibility study HySMART, funded by the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) and facilitated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), is driven by an urgent need for hydrogen fuel cell system producers and associated supply chains to drive down costs and offer fuel cell vehicles on a cost competitive basis. The study will explore the feasibility of implementing advanced robotics processes to enable scale up in the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cell stack products. HySMART is a collaborative project between Bramble Energy, Loop Technology, Microcab, UCL, and HSSMI.

The manufacture of fuel cells in the UK is a bespoke process, often limited in both volume and size. It also requires significant expertise and technical proficiency, making it difficult to produce fuel cells cost-efficiently or manufacture them at scale. HySMART aims to address these challenges by fostering the development of high-volume manufacture and the scalability of hydrogen fuel cell products. HySMART also supports the UK government’s objective to phase out new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030.

HySMART will study real-world applications of automation and inline testing for volume production of hydrogen fuel cell stacks, focusing on the development, integration and application of robotics, software controls and machine learning solutions for producing fuel cell stack technologies, as well as addressing and integrating end user requirements. This is expected to lead to reduced costs, improved conformability, scalability, quality, and robustness of the end product.

In particular, the project will target three key areas:

– Seamless integration of fuel cell components into a fully automated manufacturing process

– State-of-the-art inline testing to enhance the quality of current hydrogen product offerings

– A roadmap strategy to the production of a working robotic fuel cell stack demonstrator with inputs from end users in the automotive industry.

HySMART will culminate in a comprehensive demonstrator study, which will pull together findings from the three strands of the project. The study will detail advanced product designs and validate key technical challenges. It will analyse 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.

HySMART aims to instil confidence in hydrogen fuel cell technology, accelerating commercial uptake in the automotive sector. The project will provide stakeholders with the operational and technical requirements of using advanced robotics in fuel cell stack volume manufacture, deliver advanced testing capabilities for the entire fuel cell supply chain, ultimately leading to opportunities for manufacturing fuel cells for automotive end users at reduced cost, scale, and of higher quality.


The role of HSSMI

HSSMI will contribute its knowledge of process development and technology upscaling for volume manufacture. The unique technology innovations predicated in the project will be applied to real world industrial situations in real-time manufacturing simulation scenarios designed by HSSMI. In addition to this technical work, the HSSMI team will also take on responsibility for managing the delivery of the project and disseminating its findings.


About the Advanced Propulsion Centre

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) collaborates with UK government, the automotive industry and academia to accelerate the industrialisation of technologies, supporting the transition to deliver net-zero emission vehicles.

Since its foundation in 2013, APC has funded 150 low-carbon projects involving 375 partners, working with companies of all sizes, and has helped to create or safeguard over 50,000 jobs in the UK. The technologies developed in these projects are projected to save over 260 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing the lifetime emissions from 10.2 million cars.

With its deep sector expertise and cutting-edge knowledge of new propulsion technologies, APC’s role in building and advising project consortia helps projects start more quickly and deliver increased value. In the longer term, its work to drive innovation and encourage collaboration is building the foundations for a successful and sustainable UK automotive industry.

In 2019 the UK government committed the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to accelerate the development of a net-zero vehicle supply chain, enabling UK-based manufacturers to serve global markets. ATF investments are awarded through the APC to support strategically important UK capital and R&D investments that will enable companies involved in batteries, motors and drives, power electronics, fuel cells, recycling, and associated supply chains to anchor their future.

For more information go to or follow @theapcuk on Twitter and Advanced Propulsion Centre UK on LinkedIn.


For more information contact:

Project Lead Tristan Coats at

Project Dissemination Lead Zane Mezdreija at


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