The automotive supplier Mahle has developed a new type of coating for fuel cell coolers. Mahle expects nothing less from the solution than to promote the “mass market suitability of fuel cell vehicles”.
According to Mahle, the new coating is intended to combine maximum operational reliability with high cooling performance and enable a long service life for the fuel cell. The new coating does not contain any heavy metals or other environmentally harmful chemicals.
The development involves a new inner coating, which is a wafer-thin ceramic skin on the inner aluminium surface of the cooler. According to Mahle, this should ensure that the coolant remains largely free of harmful ion inputs and can retain its non-conductive properties over a longer period of time. The latter is important, as conductive coolants could lead to undesirable leakage currents.
The coolant in this case is deionised water. On contact with the aluminium surface of the cooler, the water would pick up traces of aluminium and could become electrically conductive. However, since the coolant in fuel cells also comes into contact with current-carrying components inside the fuel cell, it must remain non-conductive. This is exactly what the new coating is supposed to ensure – without affecting the heat exchange capabilities.
Mahle has not yet revealed more details on the cooling capacity and service life of the development. The German supplier has also not yet specified when the coating will go into series production.
Although Mahle began and grew into the large company it is today with components for combustion engines, the company is now leading in many areas of zero-emission technology in transport. The company points out that it traditionally has strong expertise with coatings, fluid management, thermal management, filtration and electronics.
In the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology, Mahle is right on the pulse of industry needs with a focus on long-haul, heavy-duty trucking applications, proving itself to be keeping up with the first movers in the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Here, the German company has already partnered with leaders in the field such as Ballard, as well as Bramble and Liebherr. The German company has been a series supplier of components for fuel cell vehicles for more than ten years. Mahle operates a hydrogen test centre at its primary location near Stuttgart and is a member of the Hydrogen Council.
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