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.
As always, Scania’s work is based on a modular approach. In the four trucks deployed in ASKO’s operations, the internal combustion engine in the powertrain is replaced by an electric machine, powered by electricity from fuel cells fed with hydrogen and from rechargeable batteries. The rest of the powertrain is composed of the same standard components used in the hybrid trucks and buses that Scania already delivers.
To increase their range, these vehicles have been fitted with a hydrogen system, which converts the gas into electricity with just pure water as a waste product. This allows the vehicles to be used 24 hours a day whilst remaining quiet and clean.
Pierburg GmbH, a subsidiary of Rheinmetall Automotive AG, is applying its accumulated combustion engine expertise in pumps and valves to offer special products for fuel-cell vehicles. In addition to a leak-free control valve that is suitable for the specific requirements of fuel cells, two other products have been developed and occupy a special position in the market to date: a coolant pump and a hydrogen recirculation blower. Both are suitable for both low-voltage and high-voltage vehicle electrical systems with 400 and 800 volts.