Fuel cells, especially polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), are already used in hydrogen-powered automobiles. With the increasing spread of this technology, a larger quantity of this type of fuel cell will have reached the end of its life by 2030 at the latest. Due to the high proportion of valuable technology metals and ecological considerations, an efficient recycling of materials contained in PEM fuel cells is necessary. However, a recycling process tailor-made for fuel cells is not yet available on an industrial scale.
This challenge is now being met by a consortium led by the Fraunhofer IWKS. As part of the "BReCycle" project, the consortium, consisting of the five research and industrial partners Fraunhofer IWKS, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, MAIREC Edelmetallgesellschaft mbH, Electrocycling GmbH and KLEIN Anlagenbau AG, is developing a closed-loop recycling concept specifically for PEM fuel cells.
Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) and Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) have agreed to jointly develop a heavy-duty fuel cell truck, and to proceed with initiatives toward its practical use through verification tests and other means.
The chassis is specially designed with the optimum packaging for a fuel cell vehicle, and steps are being taken through comprehensive weight reduction to ensure a sufficient load capacity.
Schaeffler has recognized the enormous potential of hydrogen technology as an energy carrier of the future and has developed key components for fuel cells and fuel cell stacks, so-called metallic bipolar plates.
In 2022, the BMW Group is planning to present the next generation of hydrogen fuel cell electric drive systems in a small-series vehicle based on the current BMW X5. The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT provides an initial glimpse of what this model has in store. The BMW Group would start offering fuel cell vehicles for customers in 2025 at the earliest, but the timing very much depends on market requirements and overall conditions.
Rheinmetall Automotive is developing a recirculation fan for hydrogen not yet consumed within the fuel cell stacks, special coolant pumps for 400 and 800 voltages, and electric valves.
Through its subsidiary Pierburg, Rheinmetall Automotive has now won an order from a well-known German vehicle manufacturer. Pierburg is supplying the electric cathode valves that will in future be used in fuel-cell vehicles built by this premium manufacturer.