Albis Plastic (Hamburg, Germany) announced the development of a plastic solution for fuel-cell applications, which is currently being validated in projects with well-known OEMs. The validation process includes Albis’ technical compounds Altech, Alfater SL TPV, Tedur L PPS and Alcom, all of which can be adapted to customer-specific requirements.

Battery-powered cars are currently being introduced to the market on a large scale, such as the VW ID, Audi e-tron, BMW i3, Opel Ampera-e and Mercedes EQC models. Albis stated that it has no doubt that CO2 emissions can be reduced while driving these vehicles, provided the energy comes from renewable sources.

However, this technology poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed, added the company, including the procurement of resources, the maximum range per load and the associated duration of loading times.

Albis Plastic fuel-cell project
Fuel-cell systems require the use of numerous materials, including metals, plastics and sealing materials, in the fuel-cell core itself as well as the hydrogen, oxygen, air supply and cooling circuit. Image courtesy Albis Plastic.

“Hybrid solutions that combine battery and fuel cells are a promising solution here,” said Ian Mills, a member of the Albis Management Board and head of the Compounding business.

Fuel-cell systems require the use of numerous materials, including metals, plastics and sealing materials. These are used both for the fuel cell core itself, the so-called “stack,” and the hydrogen, oxygen, air supply and cooling circuit. They are also used in components such as pumps, valves, compressors, pipes and connectors.

Pollutants, such as volatile components or ions, can contribute to the degradation of the fuel cell through emissions and, thus, reduce its service life and performance by changing the surfaces of the “bipolar plates,” for example. These volatile components can migrate from the materials used in the individual assemblies of the fuel cell.

“The production of a fuel-cell system from completely emission-free components is almost impossible because of the large number of individual parts and attachments,” explained Thies Wrobel, Business Development Manager—Automotive. “Therefore, the materials used must be carefully examined for emissions.”

Another important factor is production of the materials in a consistent, reproducible process using the same raw materials in a clean production environment. Given these considerations and in cooperation with OEMs, Albis has developed materials that have been tested in cooling and air supply systems.

The materials include polypropylene compounds from the Altech PP portfolio with 20%, 40% and 50% glass fibers; PPS compounds from the Tedur L portfolio with 30% and 40% glass fibers plus 15% PTE (for bearing applications); and Alfater TPV, a peroxidically cross-linked thermoplastic vulcanizate with comparable properties to elastomer/rubber in Shore A 60 and 70 hardness (for sealing applications).

Additional compounds will be tested in the future at Albis’ laboratory on a specially installed test rig.