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The first PCB fuel cell to enter the automotive sector

17 September 2018

Revolve Technologies completed a project to develop novel fuel cell technology using a PCB construction – first time technology for the automotive sector.

Credit: Revolve Technologies

Compared with conventional systems, the PCB fuel cell stack will drastically reduce system costs, deliver reduced weight for a given power output and provide a more flexible form factor.

A Renault Kangoo ZE van with a PCB fuel cell range extender was displayed at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event at the Millbrook Proving Ground this week. The 5kW PCB fuel cell utilises cost-effective production methods and materials from the PCB industry to reduce the cost and complexity of manufacturing proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

With the PCBFC fitted, an additional range of around 80 miles can be expected on an NEDC cycle with 1.7kg of hydrogen on board; plus, by fitting additional hydrogen storage capacity, the range can be further extended.

On the demonstration model, the fuel cell, along with the control system and electronics,  is integrated on the vehicle roof under a covered enclosure. The hydrogen storage tank is currently in the loading bay (although a future development could see the tank relocated to the roof).

While the demonstration was shown on a Renault Kangoo, the fuel cell range extender module is designed as an aftermarket kit for all commercial pure electric vehicles (EVs). The technology can also be adopted by OEMs in other pure EV segments.

Credit: Revolve Technologies

The latest project aims to support the development of the UK's low carbon propulsion supply chain through the upscaling and streamlining of an innovative 5kW PCB-based fuel cell and light commercial EV with a hydrogen range extender.

Revolve Technologies worked with its partners on this project and carried out the system integration, benchmarking and testing at its HQ in Brentwood. Bramble Energy was responsible for fuel cell development and manufacture, UCL provided fuel cell testing and manufacturing support, STI performed the electronics development, while manufacturing consultancy HSSMI worked on manufacturing upscaling.

The PCB fuel cell vehicle integration project is part of an Innovate UK funded-project, which has taken just over a year to bring to fruition, with the majority of the work completing in July.

“This project met all our expectations,” said Paul Turner, engineering director at Revolve Technologies. “We were delighted to be able to show this exciting outcome at the LCV Show, and we received a very enthusiastic reception.”

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