The fuel cell market is experiencing significant growth worldwide. In recent years, there has been a surge in demand for fuel cell technology due to its numerous advantages. Fuel cells are highly efficient, with conversion rates of up to 60%, compared to conventional combustion engines that typically have conversion rates of around 20%. This increased efficiency results in reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions, making fuel cells an environmentally friendly alternative.

Furthermore, fuel cells offer a wide range of applications across a number of sectors. They are commonly used in transportation, powering electric vehicles and buses. Additionally, fuel cells are used in stationary power generation, providing electricity for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. The versatility of fuel cells makes them a viable option for both mobile and stationary power needs.

what are they?

Fuel cell plates are a key element in a fuel cell (a device that converts chemical potential energy into electrical energy), by stacking precisely manufactured plates on top of each other to create a large surface area for chemical reactions to take place. The chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to create water releases electrons and warmth. The electricity is used to power a variety of transportation vehicles such as cars and trains. Besides transportation bipolar fuel plates can be used to generate electricity and warmth for the heating of residential buildings.

Hydrogen -and so, fuel plates – is the missing link in solving the storage of energy without polluting the planet.

A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical potential energy into electrical energy. Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) is one specific fuel cell technology that is highly suited to automotive applications due to its energy conversion efficiency, package compactness and operating temperature.

Fuel cell plates constitute one of the most important parts of the PEM and AFC fuel cell stack with multifunctional character.

They distribute fuel, gas and oxygen over the whole active surface area, join together the anode of one cell to the cathode of another, provide electrical conduction between cells, facilitate fluid management within the cells, remove heat from the active areas and more.

time for growth

The fuel cell market is supported by government initiatives and incentives. Many countries have implemented policies to promote its adoption, such as tax incentives, grants, and subsidies. These measures aim to accelerate the transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. As a result, the fuel cell market is projected to continue its growth trajectory in the coming years.

As the technology matures, manufacturers are exploring which systems offer the most efficient in terms of performance and costs. Increasingly, partnerships are being formed to pool expertise and develop comprehensive fuel plate solutions. Vigorous efforts have been made to evaluate different materials and manufacturing processes in order to meet demanding expectations.

These are exciting times for realising the potential of sustainable applications in manufacturing. Quality and precision are vital. The requirement for high precision, and the ability to deliver high quantities in high quality to a complex design while constantly pushing technology limits all create ongoing challenges for sustainability.

the role of chemical etching

Traditional processes such as machining put unnecessary stress on metal and risk adulteration by burrs and other defects. Indeed, some metals are almost impossible to machine while delivering precision. Solutions can lack structural integrity, have low power output, are thick and bulky, come with high manufacturing costs and are vulnerable to rust. Chemical etching from Tecan on the other hand mitigates these risks and helps meet the challenge to produce high precision and consistency:

  • short lead times
  • burr-free components
  • precision at a micro-scale

Our process allows us to work with a wider range of metals while ensuring registration accuracy -essential in fuel cells. This allows the foils to be stacked up precisely so features like microchannels for electronic tracks can be optimised.

conclusion

The fuel cell market is thriving due to its high efficiency, diverse applications, and government support. Fuel cells offer a cleaner and more sustainable energy solution, making them an attractive option for various industries. With ongoing advancements in technology and increasing awareness of the environmental benefits, the fuel cell market is poised for further expansion. And Tecan is here to help make it a reality.

read our bipolar fuel plate application note

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