Valmet Automotive is accelerating its development beyond batteries and into the fuel cell sector. The company has founded the Center of Competence Fuel Cell under the umbrella of its Business Line Engineering.
According to Valmet Automotive, it is “indispensable to set the course for the time after today’s generation of battery electric vehicles”. The now opened centre has been planned already in April and bundles the company’s engineering and development competence. Currently, 25 employees are looking into fuel cell technology.
The Finnish company has high hopes for a flat-membrane humidifier developed in-house. This is a membrane package that moistens the air for the fuel cell stack to enable a higher power yield. According to the press release, the current development goal is a flat membrane humidifier that covers an output range of up to 120 KW.
The company is currently holding talks to develop the flat-membrane humidifier to series maturity. The biggest argument: The flat-membrane humidifier should be significantly more compact than the hollow fibre membrane humidifiers currently in use. With the smaller space requirement, the component is to be integrated more flexibly in cars.
In the meantime, Valmet continues its battery business, at least in a service capacity. The firm has started construction of its new Battery Test Center in Germany’s carmaking region of Baden-Wurttemberg. The centre will expand Valmet’s testing capabilities for batteries and battery systems used in electric vehicles. Full test capacity is expected to be available as early as February 2020. CEO Olaf Bongwald described the BTC, in which Valmet is investing around seven million euros, as a “key factor to the company´s ambitions in electric mobility”. Four test rooms will be built on an area of 1,500 square metres to test battery systems and modules for environmental compatibility, function and safety.
Moreover, Valmet plans to start its first large-scale production of battery packs for the automotive industry in autumn 2019 at a former Nokia plant in Salo, Finland.
The company has around 6,000 employees at its locations in Finland, Germany, Poland and Spain.