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Manufacturing technologies for PEMFC stack components and stacks
Deadline: May 3, 2016  

 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Even though the development of PEMFC components and stacks for transport applications have reached a mature level in which the operational performance specifications are met, certain aspects like manufacturability, production efficiency and production cost have a large improvement potential since they have not been the focus up to this point. Currently, stack production is based on a number of well-established and time efficient processes, while others are still inefficient with respect to cycle time, cost, yield and reliability. To enable a cost efficient production and thereby marketable products in the transport sector it is of paramount importance to address manufacturing and production issues.

Moreover, there are several production steps that haven’t been thoroughly investigated regarding cost reduction potential in a serial production and integration capability in automated lines.


This topic is intended to include process development of critical steps of PEMFC stack manufacturing, including the production of component engineering samples. The topic is not intended to cover basic research on new materials nor fundamentally new cell and stack designs. Also demonstrations of full pilot lines are excluded. The fuel cell system manufacturing is explicitly excluded from this topic since it is addressed in topic FCH-01.3-2016. The overall process chain must be considered for the sake of the analysis of cycle time, covering the complete value chain including the development of inline non-destructive control tools in order to reduce the amount of defective components. Potential project proposals should have the main focus on the development of manufacturing technologies specific for PEMFC components and stacks for transport applications. The successful consortium must show evidence that critical bottlenecks specifically related to the stack and/or stack component manufacturing, including e.g. end-of-line testing and stack conditioning are addressed. The minimum TRL for stacks and stack components is 5.

Projects should achieve at least a manufacturing readiness level, MRL of 7* (Capability to produce systems, subsystems or components in a production representative environment) at project end, starting from a MRL of 5 (Capability to produce prototype components in a production relevant environment).

To demonstrate advancement with respect to the state-of-the-art on four critical parameters: cycle time, manufacturing cost, yield and reliability of the production process, project proposals are expected to cover the following top-level objectives:

  • Development of manufacturing technologies, beyond state of the art, specific to the PEMFC stack production processes, equipment and tools
  • Transpose established automotive industry best practices on production and quality to the manufacturing of PEMFC stack and stack components, such as (but not limited to) lean manufacturing, Kaisen, six sigma
  • Identification of bottleneck processes in stack or stack component production lines
  • Identification and revision of critical sub-processes (e.g. low yield/high cost)
  • Improvement, modification, adaptation or even new development of at least two critical stack or stack component production steps
  • Integration of inline non-destructive quality control tools
  • Adaptation of stack and/or stack components design to optimize manufacturability
  • Development of QA strategies relevant for the transport sector compatible with ISO/TS 16949

Duplication with already funded project VOLUMETRIQ (topic FCH-01.2-2014) should be avoided. Consortium should include at least one transport OEM and one or more stack component supplier(s), stack developer and manufacturer with existing cell/stack design and a partner specialized in manufacturing automation and production systems.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3-4 years

A maximum of 2 projects may be funded under this topic.

*For more information on the use of MRL in this topic, please see Section 3.3 Call management rules

Expected Impact:

Expected impacts of the project include:

  • Demonstrate that with the improvements in the production process and eventually some product changes, the stack production can be increased from few 100 stacks/year up to 50,000 stacks/year in 2020, for a total power range about 5 MW per year with a single line.
  • Produce engineering samples of the improved design for manufacturability of at least two relevant stack components, including their product validation.
  • Validate in hardware, with cycle time measurement, cost analysis and statistical evaluation, the performance of the improved stack production steps.
  • Validate the performance of the full stack (or stack component) production in an existing production line upgraded with the optimized process steps.
  • Achieve components yields > 95% for the improved stack component production steps
  • Feedback and structure the project results into future stack and stack component development.

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