Fuel cell specialist Ballard Power Systems and battery manufacturer Forsee Power have agreed on a strategic partnership to jointly develop integrated fuel cell battery solutions for heavy-duty mobility applications such as buses, trucks, trains and ships.
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According to the Canadian company Ballard, a memorandum of understanding has now been signed with the French battery manufacturer. In this memorandum of understanding, the two partners state that they want to jointly develop “fully integrated fuel cell and battery solutions optimised in terms of performance, cost and installation for heavy hydrogen mobility applications”.
According to the announcement, the strategic partnership to develop these systems is to be “the beginning of a long-term cooperation”. Production, marketing and sales of the integrated fuel cell-battery solutions are also to be carried out jointly. For the duo’s customers, performance data is to be improved and costs reduced. In addition, “customer friction points” are to be reduced, as the drive solutions are pre-integrated and electrically optimised – so this work no longer has to be done at the customer’s site.
Hydrogen-electric vehicles not only have hydrogen tanks and a fuel cell, but also a battery. For optimal and efficient operation of such vehicles, a “reliable and intelligent” energy management system (EMS) – which coordinates the interaction of the fuel cell module in the vehicle with the buffer battery and the electric drive system – is “crucial”, Ballard said in the statement.
For the planned integrated solution, Ballard says it will supply the fuel cell system and associated control units. Forsee will bring the battery system and battery management, cooling system and high-voltage DC/DC converters to the partnership. Ballard and Forsee will then jointly develop the important EMS.
Ballard CEO Randy MacEwan says the company’s goal is to simplify the fuel cell experience for customers and end users. “Today, OEM customers typically procure the various pieces of the fuel cell and battery powertrain separately, and then need to integrate them together,” MacEwan said. “By offering pre-designed and fully optimized and integrated fuel cell-battery solutions to our customers, we expect to ease implementation friction points. Our exciting partnership with Forsee Power represents an important step to achieve our goal.”
The partnership also provides for Ballard to make a financial investment in Forsee: As part of Forsee Power’s planned IPO, Ballard has committed to be a Cornerstone lead investor. An exact sum is not mentioned, it is only stated as “up to 40 million euros”. The investment will then also, according to Ballard, allow him to appoint a member to Forsee’s board of directors.
There have already been some points of contact between the two companies in the past: For example, both partners supply storage systems to the Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus: Forsee has been supplying batteries to Wrightbus for their battery-electric buses since 2013, Ballard supplies the fuel cells for the hydrogen models.
Update 10 June 2022
As part of the above-mentioned partnership, Ballard Motive Solutions, a British subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems, has now ordered 20 battery systems from Forsee Power. These are to be installed in waste collection vehicles with fuel cell battery drive.
The system will be Forsee’s Pulse 2.5 system, which is characterised by its particularly flat modules. Therefore, it can be easily integrated into the chassis next to the fuel cell drive, says Ballard. The waste collection vehicles will have a range of 160 kilometres and a top speed of 90 km/h, according to the statement.
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