Fraunhofer Opens Lab for Hydrogen Tech Research

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AACHEN, Germany, April 28, 2022 — The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) is constructing a hydrogen laboratory to focus on optimizing the hydrogen fuel cell for series production readiness. The lab will contain multiple facilities and open May 5 to participants of the International Laser Technology Congress AKL’22 as part of ILT’s biannual event Laser Technology Live.

A wide range of laser technology test facilities will offer public projects and a research platform for industrial cooperation. Fraunhofer scientists are conducting research in various projects to advance the cost-optimized and demand-oriented series production of fuel cells. For example, researchers are working on laser processes to produce bipolar plates used in fuel cells. By selectively structuring and coating bipolar plates, research can significantly improve their efficiency and functionality.
Bipolar plate functionalized with USP laser microstructuring. Courtesy of Dana Victor Reinz.
Bipolar plate functionalized with ultrashort pulse laser microstructuring. Courtesy of Dana Victor Reinz.

The lab will enable a range of laser-based experimental facilities for variable dimensions and designs. The facilities will cover laser-related manufacturing steps along the process chain for manufacturing metallic bipolar plates. The facilities are also available for structuring with ultrashort pulse lasers, for laser-based coating, and for high-speed welding and cutting. Existing test rigs can be used to evaluate the laser-manufactured components not only in terms of hydrogen tightness, but also efficiency.
For the future, Fraunhofer ILT could conceivably implement a wide range of projects.

“We could work with component manufacturers for fuel cells as well as with partners who want to produce manufacturing technology such as scanners or tools for process monitoring or with those who want to test beam sources,” said Alexander Olowinsky, head of the micro-joining group at Fraunhofer ILT.

Ongoing projects could also be transferred to the new hydrogen lab.

“The facilities also cover issues we have encountered in ongoing investigations with customers,” Olowinsky said. “We expect to make significant progress because the new machines have much lower restrictions in terms of speed, accessibility, and controllability.”

Published: April 2022
BusinessLasersFraunhoferILTInstitute of Laser TechnologyFacilitynew facilitylaboratoryInternational Laser Technology CongressLaser Technology Livelaser processingmanufacturinghydrogenresearchfuel cellhydrogen fuelEuropeGermany

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