Daimler steps up fuel cell production pursuit


Facilities set up in Stuttgart prepares for series production

Daimler steps up fuel cell production pursuit
Daimler’s production technology

 

Daimler Truck Fuel Cell (DTFC) has nailed the template for its fuel cell series production and is on the cusp of production, according to Daimler Truck AG.

The truckmaker is hailing progress on the process stage of fuel cell production, from membrane coating and stack manufacturing to the production of fuel cell units, and it pledges more investment to come as it develops related facilities in Stuttgart, Germany.

"As with the development of fuel cell technology, we benefit also in the field of production from our experts’ many years of experience," DTFC head Andreas Gorbach says.

"This gives us an enormous competitive advantage.

"We are already in a position to work specifically on one of our most important milestones, namely the technological template for the series production of fuel cell systems on a large industrial scale."

The comments come as Daimler and prospective joint venture partner Volvo Group are coalescing with Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell to focus on the task, following a nonbinding agreement between Daimler and Volvo in April – though Daimler notes DTFC is to transition into the planned joint venture "at a later date".


Read how the Daimler-Volvo fuel cell link emerged, here


Meanwhile, Daimler says the Volvo link dovetails with plans to cooperate with Rolls Royce Power Systems on stationary fuel cell systems, with a deal set for the end of the year.

Explaining the production difficulties as it sees the, Daimler Truck explains conventional industrial production processes cannot be directly transferred to the highly complex and highly sensitive fuel cell stacks.

"For example, the processing of numerous delicate components takes place in the micrometer range (1 micrometer = 1 millionth of a meter)," it states.

"Even the smallest contamination could impair the functionality of the fuel cells, which is why a clean room with filtered air is being set up for some of the work in the planned pre-series production."

Optimising the ambient air in production is also especially important, since even slight fluctuations in temperature and humidity can lead to significant material changes.

"This would make further work in subsequent processes considerably more difficult," the company says.

"However, the greatest challenge for the Daimler experts is to achieve short production cycles, which is essential for cost-effective production.

"For this reason, the experts in the production of fuel cell stacks sometimes rely for example on technologies from the packaging industry, which are generally not used in conventional engine production."

 

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