Ballard Power Systems are currently displaying their next-generation hydrogen solution for heavy duty vehicles at the IAA Commercial Vehicles. Their new liquid-cooled fuel cell stack FCgen-LCS has been improved in general and will power anything from buses over trains to forklifts from 2019.
For Ballard the new product is part of their 8th generation fuel cell system for heavy vehicles running on hydrogen. A press release describes the FCgen-LCS as featuring “design and performance enhancements, while also offering an impressive reduction in total-cost-of-ownership”.
In more concrete terms, said decrease in TCO will be brought about by features such as improved durability, increased power density, and economies of scale through better MEA manufacturing processes Ballard introduced. (MEA stands for Membrane Electrode Assembly – a core component for fuel cells.)
The company plans for a operating lifetime of more than 30,000 hours for their new stacks and also increased the stacks’ ability to withstand adverse conditions such as operating at temperatures of up to 850 C or, high- and low-pressure operating conditions.
A new feature is also Ballard’s nod to sustainability as the fuel cell stack FCgen-LCS is made of reusable low-cost carbon plates and compression hardware and shows the ability to recover catalyst material from MEAs. In short, some material can be recycled.
The LCS technology as well as Ballard’s MEA have also been part of their latest cooperation agreement reportedly. Weichai Power of China will invest 163 million dollars in Ballard to hold a 19.9% stake. As part of the joint venture, 90 million dollars will be used to set up exclusive manufacturing rights for Ballard’s LCS fuel cell stacks in China. Furthermore, the joint venture will use Ballard’s Membrane Electrode Assemblies. The strategic cooperation will also require Weichai to manufacture and deliver at least 2,000 fuel cell electric vehicles in China by 2021.